- Tops Markets will remodel "a number of stores" as part of a $40 million capital improvement program, the company announced in a press release. This is the first effort to invest in stores since the company emerged from bankruptcy.
- The grocer plans to renovate existing store locations with new décor, energy efficient lighting and equipment, and enhanced produce, bakery and deli departments. Tops will also add a wider range natural and organic items, antibiotic-free meat and seafood selections, and produce offerings including pre-cut fruits and vegetables. A few locations will get in-store coffee shops with seating areas.
- Grocery pickup and delivery will be a strong focus for the brand, with plans to add pickup to 20 of its store locations by the end of May. Renovations have already begun at six store locations.
After a rocky couple of years, Tops has a fresh opportunity following bankruptcy, and it's wasting no time putting newfound money to use. The company's bankruptcy helped the New York-based chain identify $100 million in capital, allowed it to close 10 underperforming stores, establish a new pension program for its employees and set a restructuring plan to cut down its $715 million debt load.
The Northeast is a grocery battlefield, so Tops will have its work cut out for it when it comes to attracting customers, even with its newly remodeled stores. Hannaford recently added a number of improvements to some of its 181 stores throughout New England, and Stop & Shop launched a new look and numerous experience-focused stores in New England since late last year.
Many of Tops' upgrades will simply align it with current consumer trends. Most retailers are adding curbside pickup and delivery in some form, whether through in-house logistics or tapping third-party services like Instacart or Shipt. Tops has dabbled with Instacart in the past, but it's unclear which service it will use in its post-bankruptcy push. The push could prove lucrative if customers adopt the newer way of shopping. Walmart, which offers grocery pickup at 2,100 of its store locations and is expanding to 3,100 stores by the end of 2019, saw over half of its revenue come from online sales as of December.
The addition of in-store coffee shops, more ready-to-eat options and value-added produce are also popular in stores, from Kroger to Whole Foods. Tops has plans to put in a new coffee shop in some of its locations, as well as sitting area for consumers.
Boosting SKUs for antibiotic-free items will also garner greater consumer interest and boost basket sizes, according to FMI's Power of Seafood report. Countless brands and retailers are beefing up their animal antibiotic policies including Costco and Giant. Sustainable seafood sourcing has seen a big push from retailers like Target, Hy-Vee and Whole Foods as well due to vocal consumers.