Apparel maker Kellwood Company has rejected a $543.7m unsolicited buyout bid from private investment firm Sun Capital, saying it is "not in the best long-term interests" of the company or its shareholders.

The bid was made last month, with Sun Capital offering US$21 per share for Kellwood's 25.89m outstanding shares.

Kellwood, whose brands include Sag Harbor, Phat Farm and Izod, has however, decided it "undervalues" the company and its "opportunities for sales and earnings growth."

"Our board is committed to enhancing shareholder value," stated Robert C Skinner Jr, chairman, president and chief executive officer, "and the Sun Capital proposal is not consistent with this objective.

"We continue to believe that executing our corporate strategy to reinvigorate our core business, expand our penetration into higher profile, better and above price point brands, connect more directly with consumers, and utilise our operating infrastructure more efficiently to fund our growth will deliver greater value to our shareholders."

Kellwood, a $2bn marketer of apparel and consumer soft goods, is in the midst of restructuring its business after swinging to a second quarter net loss of $65.8m from a profit of $7.2m in the same period last year.
In August revealed plans to trim its women's sportswear business from seven to three operating divisions - 'Lifestyle Alliance,' 'Designer Alliance' and 'Modern Alliance.'

Sun Capital, which currently has a 9.9% stake in Kellwood and is its second largest shareholder, said it had been "troubled by the company's inconsistent financial performance" and believed that with more "aggressive action" the company could "potentially generate higher levels of profitability and growth."