Coopernic, the five-strong European retail buying alliance, has signed a cross-border deal with over 100 suppliers worth over EUR100bn (US$147bn) in the coming year.

The agreement covers the sale of 17,500 brands across 18 European countries.

Coopernic, which was formed last year, is made up of German retail giant Rewe, French chain Leclerc, Belgium's Colruyt, Italy's Conad and Swiss retailer Co-op.

The five retailers joined forces to pool buying power, share market knowledge and form strategic alliances.

Yesterday (28 November), Coopernic also announced the acquisition of an 80% stake in Lithuanian retail chain IKI.

With 209 outlets in Lithuania and Latvia, it is the country's second-largest food retailer, with sales of EUR635m, an 18% share of the market.

IKI's sales have been soaring this year and Coopernic is predicting growth rates in the Lithuania's grocery market of over 26% between now and 2011.