Tops Buys 21 Supermarkets

July 20, 2012 Updated Jul 20, 2012 at 7:22 AM EDT

By WKBW News
By Business First by James Fink

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July 20, 2012 Updated Jul 20, 2012 at 7:22 AM EDT

AMHERST, NY - In a move that increases its footprint in New York state and serves as an entry into the Vermont market, Tops Markets LLC has acquired 21 supermarkets from a division of C&S Wholesale Grocers Inc.

The Amherst-based Tops has signed a deal to purchased the 21 GU Markets LLC - more commonly known as Grand Union stores - from C&S Wholesale. Terms were not disclosed and the deal is expected to close this fall.

With the deal, Tops will have 153 stores in its chain. While Tops has made some smaller deals in the past two years, the transaction is its largest since it acquired 79 former Penn Traffic supermarkets in 2010.

Frank Curci, Tops president and CEO, said his company started talks with C&S more than one year ago, but the deal took hold in the past few months.

The deal, Curci said, allows Tops to focus on running supermarkets and C&S to focus on its wholesale distribution business.

"We believe this transition makes excellent strategic sense for both organizations," said Michael Newbold, C&S Wholesale Grocers executive vice president and chief administrative officer. "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."

All of the stores are in the 20,000-square-foot range, Curci said. Many are the sole supermarket in smaller communities.

For now, the Grand Union name will remain on 20 of the stores and the lone Bryant Supermarket name will also remain on the other store.

"They have a local legacy and we don't in those communities," Curci said. "We need to learn the area and learn the customer."

Curci said Tops will renovate and upgrade all of the stores.

Collectively, the stores employ slightly more than 600 people. All are being offered their current jobs.

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