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Tops Markets will drop 1 of its 2 Saranac Lake stores

September 8, 2018
By AARON CERBONE - For the News ( , Lake Placid News

SARANAC LAKE - Tops Markets announced Thursday, Aug. 30 that it will close 10 stores, including the one on Lake Flower Avenue - one of the two Tops in this village - in its efforts to get out of bankruptcy through financial restructuring.

In 2017 the supermarket company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as it had accumulated more than $720 million in debt to 10,000 to 25,000 creditors over the past decade. Filing for bankruptcy separated the company from the $80 million annual payments Tops Markets paid on debt interest alone, which kept it from making a profit.

Tops CEO Frank Curci said he believes the grocery chain can emerge from the bankruptcy, but the restructuring process will require closing 10 underperforming New York locations by the end of November. Those 10 represent less than 4 percent of Tops overall sales, according to a company press release.

"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," Curci said.

Curci said closing 10 of the company's locations will allow it to focus on the 159 others, including Saranac Lake's Church Street Tops, which sits under 2 miles away from the Lake Flower Avenue location in the Saranac Lake Shopping Center.

The owner of that Tops, the Rochester- based Saranac Lake Center LLC, is preparing for a $500,000 renovation and has sought help from a $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant the state gave the village Aug. 7.

The Buffalo News reported in July that in June the chain "had its most profitable month yet ... [and] reported an operating profit for three straight months."

"The vast majority of our stores are profitable ... and our operating results have remained strong," Curci said.

A press release from the company said that the closing stores employ fewer than 600 of the of Tops' 14,000 associates.

"We will treat affected associates fairly and with the respect that they deserve. Importantly, we have many openings across our chain of stores and to the extent possible, we will work with impacted associates to find them placement at nearby store locations."

Emails and calls to Tops' public relations manager to learn the number of employees working at the Lake Flower store location and what will happen to them were not returned.

The move could leave a big hole in the Saranac Lake Shopping Center. Paolo Magro of Saranac Lake, who owns the plaza, declined to comment when called Aug. 30, saying he was going into a meeting.



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