Ahold Sells Tops, Martin’s Markets

WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. (AP) – Dutch supermarket operator Ahold has agreed to sell its Tops Markets chain to Morgan Stanley Private Equity for $310 million, the companies said Thursday.

The 71 stores will continue to operate as Tops Markets and Martin's Super Food Stores with the same staff.

Tops stores in western New York and northwest Pennsylvania employ about 10,000 full- and part-time workers and lead the region in market share.

“Tops is a well-regarded grocer with attractive long-term performance, strong employee relationships and a loyal customer base,” said Gary Matthews, managing director and operating partner at Morgan Stanley Private Equity.

The company eventually will move merchandising, information technology and finance functions from Carlisle, Pa., to Buffalo, Morgan Stanley said.

The sale is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of this year.

Ahold said in November that it was putting the Tops Markets chain on the market as part of a strategic review.

Tops was founded as a neighborhood grocery chain in Buffalo in the 1960s. It was acquired by Ahold in 1991. In recent years, Ahold sold off its Tops stores in eastern New York, the Adirondacks and Ohio.

Ahold USA Inc. is the American arm of Netherlands-based Royal Ahold. The subsidiary oversees nearly 800 supermarkets in four chains, including Stop & Shop in New England.