WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. — Tops Friendly Markets took the wraps off a dozen rebranded stores in northern New York earlier this month.
Tops Friendly Markets took the wraps off a dozen rebranded stores in northern New York earlier this month.
Many of the stores, part of the 21 former Grand Union stores that Tops acquired last July, are in communities that have fallen on hard times and are seen by local officials as helping to revive their towns’ economies.
In some of the communities, the Tops outlets are the only grocery stores in town. Residents say that after the Grand Unions shut down they feared they would have to travel as much as 25 miles to go grocery shopping.
"The entire Tops team has worked very hard to ensure that our new store customers will have a more enjoyable shopping experience as they see the many changes in the setting and amenities and an increased variety of products that our neighborhood stores will offer," Tops president and chief executive officer Frank Curci says. "And we want to continue the tradition of giving back and being active members of the local community."
While the store improvements vary by individual store, Curci says all of the revitalized units provide a wider merchandise mix, interior and exterior renovations and refinished store fronts.
Tops originally acquired 20 stores from Grand Union in 2001, but sold the stores back to Grand Union’s parent company, C&S Wholesale Grocers, in 2005.
After Tops was acquired by Morgan Stanley Private Equity late in 2007, the company moved to reacquire the stores. A deal was reached last year.
Executives say that being the sole grocery store in a town helps Tops become part of the community. Community relations manager Kathleen Allen says the company prides itself on its community involvement.
The grand openings saw the Tops stores in each community raise money for local food pantries, fire departments and community action programs.