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Tops buying back local Grand Union supermarkets

July 19, 2012
By staff ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

SARANAC LAKE - Grand Union to Tops to Grand Union - to Tops again?

Tops Friendly Markets announced Thursday that it "has entered into an agreement with GU Markets LLC, an affiliate of C&S Wholesale Grocers, Inc., to acquire 21 supermarkets located in upstate New York and Vermont." The sale is set to close sometime in the fall, said the company, which is based in Williamsville near Buffalo. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

In Saranac Lake and AuSable Forks, at least, these grocery stores were owned and branded by an older Grand Union company until it went under in 2001 and Tops bought the stores. In 2005, Tops sold them to C&S, a wholesaler, which ran them under the Grand Union name, which it had acquired from that company's bankruptcy.

Now they're on track to be owned by Tops again, but this time they wouldn't use the Tops name.

"For the foreseeable future, current plans call for 20 stores to be operated under their current Grand Union banner, and one store to be operated under its current Bryant's banner," a Tops press release said.

The 21 stores in question are as follows: two in Saranac Lake - one on Church Street downtown and one on Lake Flower Avenue at the southeast gateway - and one each in AuSable Forks, Bolton Landing, Chestertown, Corinth, Elizabethtown, Greenville, Hancock, Hoosick Falls, North Creek, Northville, Peru, Schroon Lake, Stamford, Tannersville, West Coxsackie and Warrensburg, plus Vermont stores in Hardwick, Northfield and Rutland.

"There are approximately 600 associates employed at these locations, and Tops will offer all associates continued employment with Tops and operate all 21 stores without any interruption in service upon closing," Tops said in the release.

This purchase would bring Tops' total number of grocery stores to 153, the company said.

"Upon closing, we plan, as we have demonstrated with many of our acquired stores, to invest in those stores and the surrounding communities in an effort to best serve our associates and customers," Kevin Darrington, Tops' chief operating officer, said in a prepared statement. "We look forward to meeting the needs of our new neighbors and customers, providing them with a positive shopping experience that focuses on variety, freshness, convenience and exceptional value."

"We are very excited about this growth opportunity for Tops, especially since these stores are a natural extension of our current footprint," said Frank Curci, Tops Markets' president and CEO. "We are looking forward to having these stores and the surrounding communities become part of the Tops family."

"We believe this transition makes excellent strategic sense for both organizations," said Michael Newbold, executive vice president and chief administrative officer for C&S Wholesale Grocers. "It allows Tops to strengthen its retail network, while C&S will continue to focus on its core business of providing innovative supply and logistics solutions to its wholesale customers. C&S very much appreciates its deep partnership with Tops and looks forward to the second decade of our relationship."



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