By Bob Clark
No area Tops Friendly Market stores are included on a list of those to shutter by the end of November.
Tops Holding Corp. said last week that 10 of the grocery chain’s 170 locations will close later this year. The stores to close include two of the seven in Rochester, two of the five stores in Syracuse and stores in Elmira, Fulton, Geneva, Lyons, Perinton and Saranac Lake.
“The vast majority of our stores are profitable and we are seeing strong customer support continue to drive growth in these locations,” Tops CEO Frank Curci said in a press release. “That said, there are a few stores that are not performing to our standards, due to a number of factors including location, store size, lack of visibility and lease costs.”
Following a February announcement that the firm was seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, company officials reported they would seek permission to close an unknown number of stores based on performance, but predicted the number would be “low.” On May 10, a federal bankruptcy judge authorized Tops to close stores as necessary, but the order did not include a number or which locations would close.
Area Tops stores include locations in Arcade, Bradford, Ellicottville, Olean, Randolph and Springville.
Tops officials did not return a call asking for comment.
Much of the grocery chain’s debt — upward of $763 million, according to a 2017 report — was accumulated after a leveraged buyout by Morgan Stanley in 2007 and a second in 2013 by the Tops management team. Rapid expansion may also be a factor. The company expanded from 70 stores in 2007 to the current 170 locations. Along the way, the firm bought Penn Traffic Co. in 2010, which owned 79 stores under several brands including P&C and Quality Markets — including the current Tops location in Ellicottville. Many of the former stores were reopened as Tops, while others were closed. Several former Big M stores were purchased and rebranded as Tops as well.
Frank DeRiso, president of UFCW Local One, which represents 12,000 Tops employees, reported in February that he believed Tops would honor its worker contracts, including pension agreements.
Tops has also received a commitment for a $125 million debtor-in-possession term loan from certain noteholders and a $140 million DIP asset based revolving loan from Bank of America, according to the Aug. 29 release. Tops officials said the funds will support the business during the court-supervised restructuring process.
Tops Markets LLC is not publicly traded, and as such is not required to file financial information on revenue, profits or debt publicly. More information on the company’s bankruptcy filings can be found online at dm.epiq11.com/#/case/TOPS/info.