Apparel firm Kellwood Co on Tuesday announced it had agreed a seven-year deal to supply men's sportswear and activewear to Designs Inc for its recently-acquired Casual Male retail stores.

The St Louis-based company said in a statement it expects total contract purchase to top $400 million, with shipments to Casual Male stores beginning in time for the spring 2003 season.

Designs bought bankrupt Casual Male Corp for $170m earlier this month with financial help from Kellwood which has supplied Designs with items for its Levi's and Dockers stores.

Kellwood corporate vice president, Robert Skinner Jr, will be responsible for the overall development of the Casual Male program. "Designs has been a good customer of ours for several years," he said.

"Because we work so well together, we came up with this innovative approach to ally our businesses and work much more closely. A commitment level of this magnitude will allow us to utilise Kellwood's global sourcing network and our design studio to its fullest capability."

Designs president and CEO, David Levin, added: "We've had a very successful relationship with Kellwood at our Levi's and Dockers Outlet Stores and could not have chosen a better partner for the Casual Male Stores."