The owner of Tops Markets is one of two U.S. supermarket chains preparing bankruptcy filings in the coming weeks, Bloomberg News reported Saturday.
The report, which cited people familiar with the situation who were not identified, said the Amherst-based supermarket chain’s debt load and intense industry competition are behind the potential filing.
Tops officials declined comment for the Bloomberg article, and a spokeswoman contacted by The Buffalo News on Saturday also said the company would have no comment. Tops chairman and CEO Frank Curci didn’t respond to requests for comment.
However, Burt P. Flickinger III, a top retail industry consultant, said it was unlikely Tops would file for bankruptcy immediately, because the chain is in the middle of a strong sales season and it has assets that it could leverage instead of seeking bankruptcy protection. But anything is possible, said Flickinger, managing director of New York retail consulting firm Strategic Resource Group.
“It could happen. It shouldn’t happen. Do not expect it to happen, because Tops has a number of valuable assets that it could sell,” said Flickinger.
While bankruptcy can help protect a company while it reorganizes and deals with debt, it doesn’t mean a company will go out of business.
Flickinger pointed to Tops’ network of gas stations located on store property, as well as the 21 Grand Union stores the company acquired in 2012 in the Albany area, the Adirondacks and Vermont.
Tops Holdings, the owner of the supermarket chain, has come under scrutiny in recent years for its high level of debt. In November it was added to a list of companies whose debt has been labeled a “concern” by one of the nation’s three main credit rating agencies.