Drinks distributors Maxxium Ireland and Barry & Fitzwilliam have agreed a strategic partnership to create a new business in the Irish market.

The new company, Barry Fitzwilliam Maxxium, will go live in February 2004.

Michael Barry, currently managing director of Barry & Fitzwilliam Ltd, will be managing director of the new operation. He will be supported in his new role by a management team drawn from both organisations.

"This agreement enables Barry Fitzwilliam Ltd to align its operations with a major international drinks company, creating a strong and dynamic player in the Irish drinks market with a combined turnover of E55 - 60 million," commented Michael Barry.

The new strategic partnership will sell and distribute a wide range of premium spirits, wines and beer. They include ABSOLUT vodka, Rémy Martin Cognac, The Famous Grouse Finest Scotch Whisky, Jim Beam Bourbon, MontGras, McGuigan, Glen Ellen, Michel Lynch and Guigal wines and Corona & San Miguel beer.

There will be two offices, one in Dublin and one in Cork, ensuring Barry Fitzwilliam Maxxium has national coverage and a strong presence across Ireland.

Alex Gonnella, currentmanaging director of Maxxium Ireland, said: "Our new structure combines the strengths of both organisations. Barry Fitzwilliam Maxxium is a powerful new brand building business that will develop and enhance the Maxxium and Barry & Fitzwilliam portfolio of brands in Ireland. This will allow us to better meet the needs of both our trade customers and consumers" he added.