by Doug McClure
SCHENECTADY/WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. – On February 8, Price Chopper/Market 32 and Tops Markets announced that they will merge under a new parent company.
The deal was described by a company spokesperson as being more about synergy than rebranding. In an interview with Supermarket News, the chief executive officers (CEO) for both chains said business was strong and, as far as consumers could tell, the markets would continue to operate separately.
Tops CEO and chairman Frank Curci said in an interview with Supermarket News that “we’ll have two separate operating business units underneath that umbrella. And Tops will continue to operate our stores as we do today.” He said the store’s name and customer relations would remain the same, as would Price Chopper/Market 32. “They’ll be led by their local management as our company’s going to be led by ours,” he said. “And we’ll take advantage of best practices and best people and eliminate redundancies and be better in the long run and take advantage of the scale on the total. That’s the plan.”
Price Chopper/Market 32 CEO Scott Grimmett said the merger was intended “to provide us the opportunity to have a stronger voice when it comes to vendor relations and negotiating contracts” and both chains were “very solid” business-wise. Curci said the two chains’ store locations are “almost perfectly contiguous, with very little overlap.”
He added that COVID-19 lockdowns and closed restaurants caused both supermarkets to experience “extraordinary sales in this past year” describing it as “a year like no other sales-wise.” He said the change in people’s habits may prove to have a lasting impact. “There’s still some reluctance to go into restaurants,” he said. “I personally think that our sales will remain elevated over normal baselines for a good part of this year until really people feel comfortable going out and living their normal lives again.”
Grimmett agreed, stating he was “not sure that those [new habits] will be broken real easily.” He added, “The stores have held up well. The teammates really have enjoyed being on the front line and being proud of what they’ve done and how they’ve served their communities. And that’s really enabled us at the end of the day to take advantage of all this incremental business that’s come our way.”
Tops Markets was founded by Ferrante Castellani in Niagara Falls a century ago when he moved there from a village outside of Rome, according to the Tops Markets website. The company recently made headlines when it filed for bankruptcy in February 2018 and closed 10 of its stores, none in Vermont.
Price Chopper operates under the Golub Corporation with Market 32, founded by Bill and Ben Golub in 1932. The company has been in the process of converting Price Chopper stores to the Market 32 brand since 2014, in what was then described as an eight- or nine-year process costing $300 million. Golub Corporation President and CEO Jerry Golub described the rebrand as a “major plan to modernize our stores.” As customers continued to change, he said, “it’s become clear to us that our stores need to change with them. Over the past two years, we’ve been working on a new store design that we feel will reflect and address those changes.”
Pending regulatory approval, the merger between Tops Markets and Price Chopper/Market 32 is expected to be completed in the coming months.