Footwear firm Payless ShoeSource has strengthened its relationship with entertainment company Disney with a direct-to-retail license deal.

The multi-year deal allows for the creation of a line of high-quality shoes featuring Disney and Disney Pixar characters.

Payless will source, market and sell the line through its chain of almost 4,600 stores and on Payless.com.

Payless has already sold Disney-themed footwear and accessories for several years, but the new agreement will mean the two companies will work more closely on shoe design, creative direction and retail marketing.

"Payless' mission is to democratise fashion and design in footwear and accessories for the family and this new Disney collection will platform us to achieve our mission," said Matt Rubel, CEO of Payless.

Disney Consumer Products chairman Andy Mooney added: "Payless is ideal for our first direct-to-retail footwear collaboration because the company is well-aligned with Disney's goal to create quality, on-trend products for kids and families.

"Being closely involved with the shoe design process is a significant step for us, and we plan to have a truly integrated relationship with Payless".

Payless and Disney expect the first products in the new line to be in stores in spring 2007 with an expanded line in time for next year's back-to-school season.