By Eamon Quinn
Plans by BWG to buy rival 4 Aces Wholesale can go ahead but only if it meets certain conditions, the competition watchdog has ruled. The wholesaler is best known as the supplier to Spar, Eurospar, Londis and other independent stores in Ireland.
The significance of the transaction, which was first announced in late January, is that BWG for the first time will become a supplier to some of the rival Gala wholesale network, covering stores in nine counties from Monaghan to Tipperary.
However, the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission said it was concerned over BWG accessing “competitively sensitive information” it acquired during the transaction but has given approval as long as BWG sells off the shareholding held by 4 Aces in Stonehouse Marketing, which is linked to Gala. 4 Aces, which is based in the Midlands, has contracts with a significant number of small retail outlets, including around 35 of the 220 Gala stores.
The transaction includes 4 Aces’ main 40,000sq ft warehouse in Portlaoise in Co Laois, and wholesale operations in Co Cavan, Co Meath, and Clonmel in Co Tipperary. 4 Aces, which is owned by Liam Linden and Pascal O’Brien, had sales of €57.5m in 2016 and employs 85 people. BWG operates a 240,000sq ft distribution centre in Clondalkin, Dublin, and other centres. BWG supplies 400 Spar stores and 50 Eurospar outlets, as well as Mace, Londis, and XL stores. BWG is 80% majority-owned by Spar Group Limited which is a South Africa-based wholesaler.