This week it was announced that Tops Market and Price Chopper would merge.
Scott Grimmett, CEO of Price Chopper will lead the merged parent company, and Frank Curci, CEO of Tops will serve on the combined company’s board. Aside from that point, the two emphasized the importance of the merger in terms of delivering better service to the communities throughout its footprint. Both spoke with Supermarket News about the merger, and changes that might be coming to individual stores.
Grimmett said it made sense ‘for all the obvious reasons’, but that his relationship with Curci helped get those conversations going in the early phases of talks. Both emphasized that the stores currently branded as one- or the other would remain the same.
That’s a plus for Tops shoppers in the Finger Lakes and Price Chopper shoppers in Central New York.
“What we’ll have is a parent company that’s led by Scott. And we’ll have two separate operating business units underneath that umbrella. And Tops will continue to operate our stores as we do today,” Curci explained. “The name’s not changing, the things that we do with our customers aren’t changing. Same thing on the Price Chopper Market 32 side. They’ll be led by their local management as our company’s going to be led by ours. And we’ll take advantage of best practices and best people and eliminate redundancies and be better in the long run and take advantage of the scale on the total.”
Grimmett says increased scale will impact the cmopany in a number of ways. “One, certainly it’s going to provide us the opportunity to have a stronger voice when it comes to our vendor relations and negotiating contracts and such,” he added. “And it’s going to put us in a position to help us better compete with the changing marketplace. But also, as Frank just said earlier, best practices. We have two very solid upstate New York grocery chains. They’ve been serving their customer base for years and years and years and have some very, very bright minds that are operating those two businesses.”
Curci told Supermarket News that there’s not a lot of overlapped, which means a good thing for locations in the Finger Lakes and Western New York. “We’re almost perfectly contiguous with very little overlap. As you know, Tops is headquartered has many stores out here in western New York, which is the exact opposite for Scott and his group,” Curci added.
The two spoke about the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the grocery business overall. “Obviously, we both experienced extraordinary sales in this past year and it’s been a year like no other sales-wise,” Curci continued. “We don’t see it slowing down much yet in this year. We know as things go on that things will slowly fade away a bit, but we do think that people have learned some new habits. There’s still some reluctance to go into restaurants. I personally think that our sales will remain elevated over normal baselines for a good part of this year until really people feel comfortable going out and living their normal lives again.”
Grimmett agreed, noting that habits are changing because of the pandemic. “We believe that there’s been some new habits changing,” he explained. “Not sure that those will be broken real easily. The stores have held up well.”