Price Chopper/Market 32 and Tops complete merger; parent HQ to be based in Schenectady

The Market 32 supermarket on Route 50 in Saratoga Springs in shown in 2019.
PHOTOGRAPHER:

The Market 32 supermarket on Route 50 in Saratoga Springs in shown in 2019.

SCHENECTADY — Price Chopper/Market 32 and Tops Markets announced Monday that their merger has been completed.

Their combined 280 supermarkets will continue to operate under their current banners, and the two divisions will be managed separately out of the existing headquarters — Price Chopper/Market 32 in Schenectady and Tops in Williamsville, near Buffalo.

However, they will be owned and overseen by a new parent company: Northeast Grocery, which will be based in Schenectady and led by Scott Grimmett, president and CEO of Price Chopper/Market 32. 

Former Tops CEO Frank Curci will sit on the board of directors of Northeast, as will Grimmett.

The two supermarket chains announced the plan in February. The subsequent review by the Federal Trade Commission resulted in a mandated sale of 12 of the Tops stores as a condition of merger. The only one of the 12 in the Capital Region is in Warrensburg, where there is also a Price Chopper.

The two entities said merging will give them greater economy of scale and create new efficiency. Their combined workforce in February was 32,000.

Both regional supermarket chains operate in a crowded industry with numerous competitors and tight profit margins. Small and midsized operators are squeezed by competition from large national and giant multinational corporations, as well as e-commerce.

“Completing the details of this merger marks a major milestone for the management teams of both Price Chopper/Market 32 and Tops,” Grimmett said in a news release, “and I’m confident that our teammates and associates are excited about it and will continue to deliver excellence.”

Previous efforts to organize Price Chopper employees have failed, but roughly 10,000 Tops employees are unionized. The final deal preserves the labor agreement in place with Tops.

“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 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.”

The two companies had limited geographical overlap — Tops operates many stores in western New York but Price Chopper/Market 32 has no stores west of Syracuse.

Both companies have deep roots in their respective regions. What is now Tops was begun as a grocery story by an Italian immigrant in Niagara Falls and has had a succession of owners and names since then. Price Chopper/Market 32 goes back to 1902, when Russian immigrant Lewis Golub started a food warehouse in Schenectady. His sons Bill and Ben opened the first retail store in 1932. The retail locations have changed names since then but the parent company retained the family name.

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.

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