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At the international level, ESD Italia is a partner of European Marketing Distribution (EMD), Europe’s largest alliance of independent retailers, created in 1989. Since January 2016, ASDA Stores, one of the major UK chains boasting a network of over 600 outlets, has been a member of EMD. Founded in 1960, ASDA has been controlled since 1999 by WalMart, the US-based company that is the largest retailer in the world. The accession of ASDA brought to 15 the number of EMD partners, who represent more than 500 businesses in 19 countries, with 150,000 sales outlets and a market potential of €178 billion. EMD's primary function is to seek out common sources of supply for distributor brands and, on behalf of some of its members, negotiate agreements with large international industries. The aggregation of interests enables it to develop synergies and economies of scale, and thus secure better prices for consumers. The partnership between ESD and EMD Italia is also a golden opportunity for medium-sized Italian manufacturing companies and producers which, through agreements signed with the ESD, can obtain easier access to foreign markets