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Price Chopper, Tops merging; effects on local stores unclear

Saranac Lake’s Tops supermarket at 156 Church St., seen in 2018. (Enterprise photo — Glynis Hart)

LAKE PLACID — It is unclear how the planned merger between Price Chopper/Market 32 and Tops Markets will affect stores in the region. The companies made the announcement Monday.

Tops operates stores in Saranac Lake and AuSable Forks, and Price Chopper operates one in Lake Placid. Asked whether any of those stores will close, both companies issued a combined statement, forwarded to the Lake Placid News from Robert Carr of Carr Marketing Communications Inc., a public relations firm based in Williamsville.

“There are a lot of decisions that need to be made as we bring our companies together,” the companies said. “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 merger transaction is expected to close in the coming months, subject to regulatory approval and customary closing conditions. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

In a press release, the upstate New York-based companies announced they have entered into a merger agreement that “creates a powerful alliance between the two independent grocery chains,” nearly doubling their collective footprint in the Northeast. The merger of the grocery chains is expected to better position them to compete.

“This transaction is about bringing together two storied supermarkets that are proud of their legacies as employers of choice in their respective markets and that are continuing to hire to support their businesses,” the companies said in a email statement to the News. “In any transaction like this there may be some redundancies. We are committed to addressing any impacted associates respectfully, and where possible, to providing alternative employment opportunities in the merged companies’ stores. We look forward to together becoming a stronger regional employer and providing even better destinations for our customers to find the convenience, savings and friendly customer service they expect at our stores.”

The Price Chopper/Market 32 and Tops Markets businesses will retain their main offices in Schenectady and Williamsville (near Buffalo), respectively, and will continue to be managed locally. The new parent company will be headquartered in Schenectady.

Price Chopper/Market 32 President and CEO Scott Grimmett will be CEO and serve on the new parent company’s board of directors, which will oversee the operations of nearly 300 Price Chopper, Market 32, Market Bistro and Tops Markets stores, and collectively employ more than 30,000 teammates.

“This merger marks a major step forward and collectively elevates our ability to compete on every level,” Grimmett said in a press release. “It leverages increased value for our customers; advances shared opportunities for innovation; fortifies the depth of our workforce, community and trade partnerships; and ultimately accelerates our capacity to deliver a distinctively modern and convenient shopping experience.”

Frank Curci, Tops Markets chairman and CEO, will serve on the board of directors of the new parent company and as a consultant to assist in the transition.

“We have long believed that this merger makes sense both strategically and based on the similar ways in which we each put customers first, go to market and treat our people,” Curci said in a press release. “We look forward to working closely with the Price Chopper/Market 32 team and together becoming an even stronger competitor with more scale, as we continue serving our customers and communities.”

John Persons, Tops Markets president and chief operating officer, will lead the Tops Markets business.

“Tops has always put serving customers and providing an exceptional shopping experience at the center of everything we do, and this merger is no different,” Persons said in a press release. “Our associates, who take pride in their work and recognize the importance of the role they play in taking care of customers and communities, will continue to be the backbone of our company.”

Blaine Bringhurst, Price Chopper/Market 32’s executive vice president of merchandising, marketing and store operations, will lead the Price Chopper/Market 32 business.

Both companies have formative roots dating back to the 1920s and have grown exponentially over the last century, building and acquiring stores across upstate New York and throughout the Northeast.

The Golub Corporation currently operates 135 supermarkets under the Price Chopper, Market 32 and Market Bistro banners in New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire.

Tops Markets currently operates 169 supermarkets, along with five supermarkets operated by franchisees under the Tops banner, in upstate New York, northern Pennsylvania and Vermont, employing more than 14,000 associates, according to its website.

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