Nike Inc has bought Official Starter Properties LLC and Official Starter LLC for $43 million in a move that takes the sportswear giant into the value retail channel.

The two businesses are the sole owners and licensors of the Starter, Team Starter and Asphalt brand names as well as master licensee of the Shaq and Dunkman branded athletic apparel, footwear and accessory products.

The business will be operated by Exeter Brands Group LLC, a new Nike operating unit dedicated to building brands in the value retail channel.

Mary Gleason, former president and CEO of Group 3 Design, the brand management company that has managed the Starter brand since 1999, will become president of the New York-based Exeter Brands Group.

Gleason will report directly to Scott Olivet, vice president of Nike Inc Subsidiaries, who also oversees Converse, Hurley, Cole Haan and Bauer Nike Hockey.

"The acquisition of Starter is the next step in the evolution of Nike Inc's multi-brand portfolio growth strategy and will allow us to capitalise on an important value channel opportunity," said Tom Clarke, Nike's president of New Business Ventures.

"Over the past three years, value retailers have grown rapidly in the US athletic footwear and athletic apparel markets. This acquisition gives us a profitable existing business and a platform for future growth in a channel not currently served by our current brand portfolio."

Founded in 1971, the Starter brand pioneered the league licensed apparel business through agreements with Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League and the National Football League.

Official Starter Properties LLC and Official Starter LLC acquired the assets of the bankrupt Starter Corp in 1999.