ROCHESTER, NY (WXXI) – Tops Markets is announcing plans to close 10 stores it says are underperforming as part of its effort to restructure and emerge from the Chapter 11 bankruptcy it filed for earlier this year.
The stores identified for closing include three in the immediate Rochester area. Also, one in Lyons and another in Geneva will close. Other stores slated to close are in Fulton, Elmira and Saranac Lake.
The stores that are closing will be shut down by the end of November. The company says it is taking this action as it continues to focus on strengthening its financial position so it can invest further in its stores and compete more effectively.
Tops says the number of workers affected is less than 600. The company also says there are many openings across its chain of stores, and to the extent possible, they will work with the affected employees to find them jobs at nearby store locations.
Tops says it has also received court approval of its final agreement with the union representing a number of workers at the supermarket chain, the UFCW.
Frank Curci, chief executive officer of Tops, said, “We are making significant progress in our financial restructuring process and our operating results have remained strong. Receiving court approval of the global settlement with the UFCW is a major milestone in our court supervised restructuring process, as it helps pave the way for our reorganization and ultimate emergence from this process.
We also recently completed a review of our store portfolio. The vast majority of our stores are profitable and we are seeing strong customer support continue to drive growth in these locations. 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.
We are using the tools available to us through the court-supervised process to conduct an orderly wind down of these stores. We are pleased to continue serving our communities with existing locations that are all in close proximity to the affected stores and providing the same great service, value, and convenience that our customers expect from us.”
Burt Flickinger is a supermarket analyst and Managing Director at Strategic Resource Group. He doesn’t have a lot of optimism now about Tops’ current situation.
“Tops as an operating unit could be successful were the company to have good leadership, good operators, good practioners like the Wegmans family has across four generations.” Flickinger also feels that Tops should have closed about twice the number of stores it announced on Thursday.
Tops says that fewer than 600 of the company’s 14,000 employees work at the affected stores and these stores represent less than 4 percent of Tops’ overall sales.