Tissimans opened in 1601 under the name Slaters (Wiki Commons)

The closing down sale for the world's oldest menswear shop begins today (8 February).

Tissimans opened as a tailor, draper and undertaker in 1601. Its flagship store was in the historic building opposite St Michael's Church in Bishop's Stortford.

Freddy Cole, director of the company, said Tissimans had found trading difficult following the recession and could not find a viable option for staying open after the lease to its store runs out.

The shop will officially shut at the end of the month.

A company statement said: "With great regret Tissimans has announced its closure with effect from the 28 February 2013.

"We will be having a closing down sale from the 8 February for the duration of the month, with massive reductions on all suits and all clothing.

"We would like to thank all our customers over the years and apologise for any inconvenience caused by this sad news."

It also said customers were welcome at the other family-run clothing store Coles Menswear, which is in Epping: "Run by the same family with the same quality service and similar stock we are sure we can help you in any way possible. Thank you."

Tissimans was founded as Slaters. It is not known when the name changed, but there is evidence of Tissimans in the late 1800s in an old ledger book.

Part of the Bishop's Stortford premises dates from around 1360 and it was added to in 1545.

Its rich history boasts royal connections - Tissimans has provided the entire staff of Sandringham House and Windsor Castle with tailor-made uniforms.

Family Business Magazine listed Tissimans as the 26th oldest family-run enterprise in the world.

Cole, 22, told the Independent on Sunday: "A lot of people have come out of the woodwork since we said we are closing, but where were they during the past five years?

"I see people come in, try on stuff, and then I never see them again. They find websites selling things cheaper than I can afford to."