Bargain ballgowns are on offer as Elite Fashions in Chippenham starts its closing down sale today.

Paul and Dai Baker have decided to close their shop after spending 10 years in Station Hill helping wedding parties find outfits for their special day.

The husband and wife team has run the business as a partnership and had a friendly rivalry over who made the most sales.

Mr Baker often led the way as, not only did he deal with the menswear, but the women often liked to get a man’s opinion as well.

Mr Baker, 59, said: “We had staff initially but we soon realised that the only people that really push a business are its owners.

“I’m retiring, but she’ll have to go out and work; I’m used to a certain standard of living,” he joked.

They plan to take a six-month sabbatical, part of which they will spend in Belize, the birthplace of Mrs Baker, 55.

They met when Mr Baker was stationed there while serving in the Royal Air Force.

He left the RAF in 2001, a year after they set up in business at their Calne home, where they still live.

Elite Fashions was moved to the Chippenham retail unit in September 2004.

After initially specialising in formal wear for women, in 2007 they also ventured into men’s formal hire. And despite being 300 miles from Scotland, a quarter of the men’s trade has come from hiring out kilts.

Mr Baker said: “I think the men like that I have given them attention, which they don’t always get in the large chain shops.

“We have had a lot of fun and I’ll be sad to see it close. Please come and visit us in store, either to say goodbye or to pick up a bargain. We would like to give a big thank you to all our customers both past and present for all their support and business over the years.”

Elite Fashions has been a big supporter of the Gazette & Herald’s Christmas toy appeal, collecting three or four estate car loads of shoeboxes each year over the past five years. They have also donated stock to RAF Lyneham for Help For Heroes.

The shop is set to close at the beginning of July and Mr Baker said he believed another boutique was taking on the lease.