New Irish wholesaling force formed Two wholesaling groups in the Republic of Ireland have joined forces to fight off the growing dominance of market leaders BWG and Musgraves. Associated National Distributors ­ Keencost and the National Wholesale Grocers Alliance say that by merging their memberships they will take a quarter share of the £2bn wholesaling market in Eire. Renamed Stonehouse, the combined group is now worth £500m. It will continue to supply catering, cash and carry and wholesale products through its 39 member companies and 66 distribution centres. The wholesalers' core brands are under review but it is expected the "strong" Homestead brand from Keencost will continue. A chief executive has not yet been appointed. As The Grocer went to press both National Wholesale ceo Tom Shipsey and AND-Keencost ceo Bob Cullen were said to be front runners. Michael Campbell, chief executive of independent retailers' trade association RGDATA, said the merger was well overdue. "Competition from larger wholesalers in the area ­ particularly Musgraves and BWG ­ has placed both organisations under pressure and one way of combatting this is to pool resources," he said. Terence Mangan, chairman of AND-Keencost cash & carry member Mangan Brothers, and Jim Barry, chief executive of National Wholesale member Barry's Cash & Carry, are appointed as directors of the new group. {{NEWS }}