FTC approves merger of Tops with Price Chopper/Market 32

Posted 8 November 2021 at 7:43 pm

Press Release, Tops and Price Chopper/Market 32

File photo by Tom Rivers: In Orleans County, Tops operates a store in Albion on West Avenue (pictured) and also a store in Medina on Maple Ridge Road.

WILLIAMSVILLE/SCHENECTADY – With the regulatory review process complete and approval from the Federal Trade Commission received, Price Chopper/Market 32 and Tops Markets today announced the closure of their merger, as proposed earlier this year.

Under the terms of the agreement, the two companies will be managed locally by their respective leaders and continue to be referred to by their established brand identities, but will be owned and overseen by a new parent company, Northeast Grocery, Inc.

As previously announced, Scott Grimmett, the current president and CEO of Price Chopper/Market 32, will lead the new parent company. He will also serve on its board of directors as will Frank Curci, former Tops Markets Chairman and CEO.

The agreement cements a powerful alliance between the two storied independent grocery chains, as it virtually doubles their collective footprint in the Northeast. With increased scale across their now-combined footprint of nearly 300 stores, the merged companies are better positioned to leverage increased value for customers; advance shared opportunities for innovation; and fortify the depth of their expanded workforce, community, and trade partnerships, thereby becoming stronger and more competitive.

“We’re appreciative of the FTC’s diligence in reviewing this merger and grateful to have received all of the necessary approvals,” Grimmett said. “Now, we can dedicate ourselves to bringing these two storied grocery chains together, leveraging best practices, developing new opportunities, and finding efficiencies that will help us continue to deliver distinctive shopping experiences.”

The regulatory review process by the FTC mandates the divestiture of 12 of the combined companies’ stores. C&S Wholesale Grocers (C&S) has been approved to purchase all 12 stores. GU Markets LLC, an affiliate of C&S Wholesale Grocers, will operate these stores. C&S will continue to recognize the union workforce at these locations. The 12 Tops stores to be divested and purchased by C&S Wholesale Grocers are: Cooperstown, Cortland, Norwich, Owego, Peru, Rome, Rutland, Saranac Lake, Sherrill, South Watertown, Warrensburg and Watertown.

“We believe that this merger will be a positive for our membership, preserving union jobs and strengthening the company’s prospects into the foreseeable future,” said Frank DeRiso, president of the UFCW Local One. “We are pleased that we have an agreement with the new owner and they are committed to retaining all of the existing union jobs and contracts. We would like to thank the office of the NYS Attorney General, Senator Chuck Schumer and our UFCW International Union for their guidance, assistance and cooperation during this complicated process. This merger will benefit both consumers and union members.”

Blaine Bringhurst will serve as president of the Price Chopper/Market 32 business and John Persons as the president of the Tops Markets business. Dave Langless, the Chief Financial Officer of Tops, will serve as the parent company’s CFO.

Northeast Grocery, Inc. will be headquartered in Schenectady as will Price Chopper/Market 32. Tops Markets will retain its main office in Williamsville.

Congressman Chris Jacobs issued this statement about the merger being finalized: “Two weeks ago, I called for the FTC to issue a decision on the merger between Tops and Price Chopper after months of inaction. Today I am proud to announce the FTC has ended its stalemate and approved this merger. This decision will secure food availability and thousands of jobs in Western New York. I’m pleased our efforts to raise community awareness of the urgent need for the FTC to approve this merger caused the agency to finally take this long overdue action.”