- C&S Wholesale Grocers announced Tuesday it has agreed to acquire 12 Tops Markets stores and will rebrand them under the storied Grand Union name.
- The Federal Trade Commission is requiring Tops to divest the locations as a condition for its merger with Price Chopper, which was announced in February and completed this week.
- The Grand Union supermarket brand dates back more than a century and was at one point one of the country’s largest grocery chains.
C&S is reviving a supermarket brand with a long history and an iconic name in the Northeast as the wholesaler expands its retail footprint.
Grand Union was founded by three brothers in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in 1872 and established headquarters in Brooklyn, New York, in the early 1900s. The company grew rapidly in the middle of the 20th century, and by the late 1970s had several hundred stores, making it one of the country’s largest supermarket operators.
Grand Union fell behind competitors, made some questionable acquisitions, and by the 1990s its business was declining rapidly. It went through bankruptcy three times between 1995 and 2000. In 2001, C&S bought the company’s 185 stores and sold most of them off to grocers like Ahold, Tops and Price Chopper. In 2012, Tops bought the last of Grand Union’s stores, effectively closing the book on the brand.
C&S said it plans to hold reopenings for its 12 new Grand Union stores between mid-January and mid-February next year. It will operate the stores under an affiliate, GU Markets LLC, and expects that transaction to close in the coming weeks. Eleven of the stores are located in upstate New York, and one is located in Rutland, Vermont.
This marks the second retail acquisition for C&S this year, following its purchase of Piggly Wiggly Midwest this summer. Under that deal, C&S controls 11 Piggly Wiggly stores and supplies dozens of franchise locations along with 14 Butera Market locations in Chicago.
When announcing their completed merger this week, Tops and Price Chopper noted the formation of a new parent company, Northeast Grocery, that will oversee the companies' combined operations, including more than 300 stores. Both retailers will be managed locally and keep their respective names. Scott Grimmett, the current president and CEO of Price Chopper/Market 32, will lead the new parent company and Dave Langless, the chief financial officer of Tops, will serve as the parent company's CFO.
On Tuesday, the Federal Trade Commission said it’s requiring Tops to sell off 12 stores because otherwise the 11 markets they’re located in would be “highly concentrated” and could lead to anti-competitive practices. The FTC said C&S is prohibited from selling off the acquired stores for three years unless the agency approves the buyer, and will require approval to sell to any operators with one or more locations in the same county for an additional seven-year period.