Ireland's Superquinn chain has agreed a joint venture that will boost its buying power and move it into the big league, according to executive chairman Feargal Quinn.
In an alliance with Stonehouse, Ireland's largest independent wholesaler group, it has established a joint purchasing company, Aontas Grocery & Food Services, which will have a combined annual turnover of close to E2bn.
According to Quinn, the alliance with Stonehouse "will transform Superquinn's buying power by bringing us into a bigger league. As a group with only 19 shops, we compete with multinationals who buy for several hundred outlets. Strategically, we want to combine the responsiveness of a small, customer-driven company with the buying power of a large player."
Superquinn, the Republic's third ranked multiple, has 9% of the market, well behind Tesco's 24% and Dunnes' near 23%.
Stonehouse, which has 55 depots and employs 1,400 staff, delivers to over 500 stores. Chief executive Tom Shipsey said: "This will help us to combat the influx of multiples and discount retailers from overseas."
Rumours of a takeover of family owned Superquinn were revived when the latest market share figures showed slippage, but the new alliance reinforces the Quinn family declarations the chain is not for sale.