Nike Inc, the world's biggest athletic apparel maker, has started selling shoes in Wal-Mart under its new Starter brand.

Customers at more than 400 Wal-Mart stores can buy the revamped Starter sneakers for $37.64.

Nike bought the Starter brand in August last year for $43 million with the specific aim of entering the value end of the retail business. The Starter brand has been one of the top-selling sneaker brands in Wal-Mart since 2000.

The deal to buy Starter's parent company also gave Nike the Shaq and Dunkman shoe brands, sold at Target.

Nike plans to have more discount shoe offerings in coming years, as well as apparel and equipment made specifically for the value chains.

Consumers purchased about $1.5 billion worth of athletic shoes at discount stores last year. 70 per cent of the athletic footwear sold in the United States in 2003 cost less than $45, according to market research from NPD Group.