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Tops, Price Chopper/Market 32 merging into one company

By Eric Reinhardt

Date:

Union leader reacts     

The Tops Markets store at Towne Center at Fayetteville. (ERIC REINHARDT / CNYBJ)

Two competing upstate New York grocery store chains with operations in the Syracuse area will soon be one company.

Price Chopper/Market 32 and Tops Markets announced on Feb. 8 that they have agreed to merge in a deal that “nearly doubles” their collective footprint in the Northeast. 

The transaction will bring together nearly 300 Price Chopper/Market 32, Market Bistro and Tops Markets stores that collectively employ more than 30,000 employees, per a joint news release. 

Both grocery-store chains have locations in the Syracuse area. Price Chopper/Market 32 is headquartered in Schenectady while Tops Markets is based in Williamsville in suburban Buffalo. 

Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. The deal is expected to close “in the coming months,” subject to regulatory approval and customary closing conditions. 

The new parent company will be headquartered in Schenectady. The Price Chopper/Market 32 and Tops Markets businesses will retain main offices in Schenectady and Williamsville and will continue to be managed locally by their respective leaders.

Both grocery-store chains will continue operating under their respective names, a company spokesman tells CNYBJ in an email. 

Union reaction

The Price Chopper store at 2515 Erie Blvd. East in Syracuse. (ERIC REINHARDT / CNYBJ)

The head of the union representing workers at Tops Markets calls the deal with Price Chopper/Market 32 “a marriage of a totally union operator, Tops Friendly Markets with a totally non-union operator the Golub Corporation.” The union representing Tops workers says it will fight for its members’ jobs following the merger announcement.

“Our members at Tops Friendly Markets are essential frontline workers, and as always Local One will continue to fight for our members’ jobs and their livelihoods. Our collective bargaining agreements are in full effect, and have years left before they expire. We will be bargaining with Tops on the Adirondack stores very soon, and expect no issues,” Frank C. DeRiso, president of UFCW Local One said in a statement. “We will use every legal measure to make sure our members are treated fairly, and we look forward to working with the new management, as we always have, to ensure of members have stable employment.”

UFCW is short for United Food & Commercial Workers. UFCW Local One represents 10,000 Tops Friendly Markets employees. UFCW Local One has 16,000 members working in retail food, drug, food processing, transportation, hospitals, and nursing homes in upstate New York and northern Pennsylvania. 

A spokesperson for Price Chopper/Market 32 says the company has “no plans” close any Tops or Price Chopper/Market 32 stores “at this time,” per a Feb. 10 email.

That same day, a spokesperson for Tops Markets forwarded a statement that’s attributed to both companies.

“There are a lot of decisions that need to be made as we bring our companies together. We are working through the regulatory approval process and no decisions have been made yet about specific stores. Rest assured, the merged companies expect to continue serving their communities and customers,” the statement said.

Coming together

With increased scale across their footprints, the two companies expect they’ll be “better positioned to compete” across the Northeast.

Scott Grimmett, president and CEO of Price Chopper/Market 32, will be the CEO and serve on the board of directors of the new parent company. Frank Curci, chairman and CEO of Tops Markets, will also serve on the board of the new parent company and as a consultant to assist in the transition. 

Blaine Bringhurst, executive VP of merchandising, marketing, and store operations, will lead the Price Chopper/Market 32 business. John Persons, president and COO of Tops Markets, will lead the Tops Markets business.

“This merger marks a major step forward and collectively elevates our ability to compete on every level,” said Grimmett. 

Founded by the Golub family in 1932, Price Chopper/Market 32 operates 130 Price Chopper and Market 32 grocery stores and one Market Bistro, with 18,000 employees in New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. 

Tops Markets operates 162 grocery stores in New York, Vermont, and Pennsylvania, including five that are run by franchisees. It describes itself as the largest private, for-profit employer in Western New York, with more than 14,000 employees.   

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