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Piggly Wiggly tops Lowes in click-and-collect comparison

A 20-SKU basket shopped for via the click-and-collect service at a Piggly Wiggly in Myrtle Beach, S.C., was less expensive than the same basket purchased for store pickup at a Lowes Foods store about 11 miles away in Murrells Inlet, S.C., during two weeks of a three-week collection period. Factoring into basket totals are a $ 4.95 Lowes Foods service charge and a $ 5 Piggly Wiggly service charge. SOURCE: Brand View Free pdf Download the free infographic of this SN Price Check …

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Tops Sources Coffee to Benefit Nearby Zoo

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Tops Friendly Markets has brought in locally roasted Polar Bear Brew Coffee to support the Buffalo Zoo’s new Arctic Edge polar bear exhibit.

For every bag purchased, $ 1 will be donated to the Buffalo Zoo’s 60,000-square-foot polar bear exhibit designed to replicate the snowy, frozen climate of the Arctic Circle.


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The exclusive brew from McCullagh Coffee launched in 50 locations Sunday and will be available throughout Western New York through Aug. 4. Made with 100% Rainforest Alliance Certified Colombian beans, the coffee is available in Breakfast Blend, Donut Shop and Decaffeinated.

“As a long-standing sponsor of the Buffalo Zoo, the opportunity to support the Buffalo Zoo by offering Polar Bear Brew, a premium locally roasted coffee is a win-win situation,” said Cathy Shifflett, Tops’ vice president of Center Store Sales and Marketing, in a statement.

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Tops, Winco push World Cup promotions

Who says Americans don’t care about soccer? Retailers across the country are betting on the World Cup with contests, events and other promotions.

Tops partnered with Coca-Cola to donate soccer balls to local schools.

WinCo customers have the chance to win official gear from the U.S. soccer team.

At Mi Pueblo, customers can fill out a World Cup bracket for a chance to win $ 2,500.

Northgate Gonzalez Markets has been holding in-store events with giveaways and games.

Earth Fare created a special savings offer tied to the U.S. team’s performance.

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Tops sponsors school garden contest

Tops Friendly Markets, Dole Fruit Bowls and Captain Planet Foundation have joined up to sponsor a contest for two elementary schools to win an on-site learning garden.


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The prizes include five raised beds planted on school property, a fully-equipped mobile cooking cart, and lesson supply kits. Teachers will receive lesson plans for incorporating the learning garden into the curriculum. Captain Planet Foundation will also hold a one-day professional development workshop for teachers.

Tops plans to host end-of-the-year celebrations at the winning schools.

“We are excited to provide this opportunity for the schools within our communities to enter the Learning Garden Grant program,” Frank Curci, Tops president and CEO, said in a press release. “Giving back to the neighborhoods we serve is incredibly important to us, and we are always looking for ways to improve the quality of the life for children through education around nutrition and healthy living.”

Parents and school officials can enter at captainplanetfoundation.org/topsmarketcontest. Only schools in Tops’ market areas in New York, Vermont and Pennsylvania are eligible. The contest runs through May 3; winners will be announced in June.

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Gallery: Tops Friendly Markets deli store tour

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Tops freshens prepared foods program

Tops Friendly Markets, Williamsville, N.Y., has been mixing things up in the deli and prepared foods departments.

In December Tops expanded its hot bar program with new offerings. The chain kept its signature items — fried chicken, mashed potatoes and meatloaf — but added new entrees, said Karri Zwirlein, deli and prepared foods category manager.

New comfort food entrees like pulled pork, white cheddar pasta and ribs have been popular in the cold weather.

“We just wanted to add some excitement,” said Zwirlein.

“We’re trying to get better adding limited time offers and seasonal varieties and just keeping it exciting and new, and leaving enough selection and variety available to the stores so that they can pull some different things in and out of their stores when they feel they need to make some changes.”

Tops chose the first week of December for the relaunch of the hot bar in order to expose as many shoppers as possible to the new products during the holiday season, said Jeff Culhane, VP of perishable sales and merchandising at Tops.

“We’re definitely seeing sales grow in the hot foods category,” he said.

Pizzeria in a supermarket

The chain also revamped its pizza program last fall — developing new marketing materials and packaging. Hot made-to-order pizzas have always been sent home in boxes, but Tops decided to also merchandise cold grab-and-go pizzas in pizza boxes.

“Our thought behind putting the pizza in a box, with upstate New York [being] very much a pizzeria town, when you take the pizza home — whether it’s hot to go or take and bake — you’re taking a pizza in a box home. It gives you the whole experience of a pizzeria pizza,” Culhane said.

Tops competes with the many surrounding pizzerias with competitive pricing, and is getting the word out about its specialty pizza through ads and a pizza of the month promotion, said Zwirlein.

The chain recently held a contest where store associates submitted ideas for specialty pizza recipes, and customers voted on their favorites on Facebook. The customers who voted received a $ 1 discount on pizza at the store. Tops is adding one of the winning recipes, a roasted pepper, artichoke and chicken pizza, to the menu shortly.

“We want to be a pizzeria inside a grocery store. We don’t want to be grocery store pizza, I guess,” Zwirlein said.

Blockbuster meals

One of Tops’ bestselling specialty pizzas is a buffalo chicken wing pizza with blue cheese, and its breakfast pizza has almost a “cult following” across all Tops’ locations.

“It’s American cheese and scrambled eggs and crispy bacon and traditional mozzarella that you’d find on a regular pizza and it’s really, really delicious and not very good for you,” Zwirlein said with a laugh.

Tops’ fried chicken program — made with fresh, never frozen chicken — is also a standout across its locations in New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont.

“Just this past summer [the signature fried chicken] was rated ‘Finger Lickin’ Awesome’ by Buffalo Magazine. And we didn’t even know they were doing this research,” said Zwirlein, who noted that the chicken received a rating of four “drumsticks.”

The supermarket has also seen its fish fry dinner gain momentum. The beer-battered haddock comes with coleslaw and a dinner roll.

“We make it onsite and it’s hot, generally made to order, but during the Lent season, which is coming up, we do set up stations where we’ll prepare as much hot product ready to go that we can handle and work through in a 15-minute time period,” Zwirlein said.

Local store with more

Tops takes great care to make sure that the deli and prepared foods areas in each of its locations appeal to the shoppers in that market.

“When we are looking at products and programs, we have offerings in Buffalo that we don’t offer in Syracuse because they’re not relevant to the Syracuse market. We have items in Erie, Pa., that are only for Erie because that’s what the consumer in that market wants,” said Culhane.

“We try to tailor our offerings to and towards the customers and what their wants and desires are within that particular market.”

One way that Tops customizes its offerings is by partnering with local brands that consumers will recognize.

“We formed a partnership with the Anchor Bar [restaurant] here in Buffalo where legend has it the chicken wing was created,” said Zwirlein.

“So we have partnered with them and we use all of their chicken wing sauces in our Carry Out Café for our chicken wing program.”

Tops offers coffee from Tim Horton’s café and bakeshop, a business that Zwirlein said is very popular around Buffalo. The retailer also partners with national brands that consumers will immediately accept.

As Tops has expanded to new locations, converting existing retailers to Tops banners, the chain has made sure to work closely with the store team to get to know the shoppers’ prepared foods preferences, said Culhane.

“While we try to incorporate the core Tops programs into those stores, we do allow that store to kind of keep that local flair, that local offering so the consumer still connects to that store even though the front of the banner may change to now say Tops; it still maintains its local niche.”

Supermarket News

Foodservice Tops Fresh Food Articles of 2013

This year’s list of SN’s most popular online Fresh articles begins and ends with foodservice. In between, Fresh fans will find news and views about fresh cut snacks, hummus, baked goodies and artisanal cheese.

1. Hy-Vee Reimagines Foodservice With Full-Service Restaurants

Restaurants are high on the menu of Hy-Vee foodservice plans, which call for scores of store remodels to add full-service Market Grilles and smaller Market Cafes. A Spotlight on Deli/Fresh Meals feature. It was reported this month that Hy-Vee will add 50 restaurants next year.

2. Whole Foods Imagines Produce Dept. Without Bees

Whole Foods generated lots of buzz (sorry, couldn’t help it) about produce, or the potential lack thereof, “by removing half its produce items at one store to show what the department would look like if there were no bees to pollinate plants.”

3. Wegmans Adds Fresh Cut Snacks

The enterprising Northeast retailer reinforced its pro-health MO by rolling out fresh cut snack combos to all stores, just in time for back-to-school munching. Carrot and celery sticks with hummus dips sound mighty good to me.

4. Hummus Category Spreads Out at Retail

Speaking of hummus, mashed chickpeas are “all the rage” (so the story goes, by SN’s Jenna Telesca). Shoppers are taking more interest in hummus, and retailers are paying attention. “It’s just been an item that has really taken off” — or is humming along, one might say.

5. Sweet Trends: Cupcakes, Cookies … and Cronuts

The Cronut — that trademarked knockoff-generating mouth-watering doughnut-croissant hybrid — isn’t the only hot trend in sweet baked goods. Cookies, cakes, cupcakes and red velvet are more than holding their own. As is Reveal Cake, whatever that is.

6. Fresh Market Categories on Solid Ground

Traders scan the stock lists and fans review the boxscores, but category managers devour sales figures, and SN provided statistics galore in 15 fresh categories from A to Z — actually, from B (bakery) to Y (yogurt).

7. Tops’ Orchard Fresh Format Will Target Foodies

Fresh is everywhere these days, including supermarket signage, and not to be outdone, Tops Friendly Markets opened its small-format, fresh-focused, upscale store under the banner Orchard Fresh at, where else, Orchard Park, N.Y.

8. Grocery Stores Losing Fresh Market Share

With all the talk about how supermarkets are relying more and more on perimeter sales, one research firm cautions grocery stores that they’ll lose fresh food share to the likes of supercenters and club stores in the next few years.

9. Kroger, Murray’s Cheese Partnership Going Strong

While stores within stores have long benefited both partners, the concept is really clicking with big chain Kroger and big cheese Murray’s. The artisanal cheese shops are found in dozens of Kroger stores across the country, with more to come.

10. Supermarkets Look to New Foodservice Concepts

SN’s Liz Webber talked to three retailers about their innovative foodservice projects. Dinner is served at Todds BBQ at Mariano’s. It’s ready to go at Kings Food Market’s “Inspirations-to-Go.” Or, if you have a taste for tortillas (I do!), try the full-service taco bar at Brookshire’s.

Supermarket News

Tops Friendly Markets buyout complete

Tops Friendly Markets announced the acquisition of Tops Holding II by a group of senior managers closed Dec. 1.

“The management team at Tops truly has a passion for the business and dedication to the core values of the organization, and has led the company’s tremendous growth over the past six years,” Frank Curci, Tops president and chief executive officer, said in a press release.  ”This transaction represents the next step in the natural evolution of Tops that began six years ago when we returned operations and decision making to our local markets.  Now with local ownership as well, we will be able to build on our successes of the recent past, deepen our commitment to the markets we serve, and further expand to better serve our associates and customers.”

The senior managers in the acquisition group consists of Curci; Kevin Darrington, chief operating officer; Rick Mills, chief financial officer; John Persons, senior vice president of operations; Jack Barrett, senior vice president of human resources; and Lynne Burgess, senior vice president and general counsel. 

During the past six years under Curci’s leadership, Tops has more than doubled the number of its stores, added new jobs and expanded its geographic reach into eastern and northern New York, Vermont and northern Pennsylvania. In April, Tops also opened Orchard Fresh, a specialty and gourmet food store in Orchard Park, NY.

Financial terms of the transaction have not been disclosed. 

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

Tops Friendly Markets buyout complete

Tops Friendly Markets announced the acquisition of Tops Holding II by a group of senior managers closed Dec. 1.

“The management team at Tops truly has a passion for the business and dedication to the core values of the organization, and has led the company’s tremendous growth over the past six years,” Frank Curci, Tops president and chief executive officer, said in a press release.  ”This transaction represents the next step in the natural evolution of Tops that began six years ago when we returned operations and decision making to our local markets.  Now with local ownership as well, we will be able to build on our successes of the recent past, deepen our commitment to the markets we serve, and further expand to better serve our associates and customers.”

The senior managers in the acquisition group consists of Curci; Kevin Darrington, chief operating officer; Rick Mills, chief financial officer; John Persons, senior vice president of operations; Jack Barrett, senior vice president of human resources; and Lynne Burgess, senior vice president and general counsel. 

During the past six years under Curci’s leadership, Tops has more than doubled the number of its stores, added new jobs and expanded its geographic reach into eastern and northern New York, Vermont and northern Pennsylvania. In April, Tops also opened Orchard Fresh, a specialty and gourmet food store in Orchard Park, NY.

Financial terms of the transaction have not been disclosed. 

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

Aldi Tops Ranks of ‘Simple’ Companies

NEW YORK — Grocery discounter Aldi was named to the top spot of a list of global brands ranked by their simplicity by Siegel + Gale, which announced findings of its annual Global Simplicity Index on Wednesday.

The report, based on a study of 10,000 consumers in seven countries, scored Aldi as the most simple global brand, up nine spots from last year.


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“With more than 9,000 stores worldwide and a brand that ‘focuses on the essentials, no matter what city,’ Aldi has made the most of its good-value-for-the-money reputation with both recession-strapped customers and shoppers just looking to spend less,” Seigel + Gale said.

In U.S. rankings, grocery chains Publix (7th overall), Trader Joe’s (12th), Kroger (18th), Whole Foods (24th), Albertsons (30th) and Safeway (45th) were ranked. Grocery stores ranked as the 6th most simple industry overall.

According to the study, brands perceived as “simple” also tend to reap financial benefits, including higher customer loyalty; greater willingness from consumers to pay; and increased employee innovation. The study said consumers were willing to pay 3.6% to 4% more for a simpler experience in the grocery category.

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Aldi Tops Ranks of ‘Simple’ Companies

NEW YORK — Grocery discounter Aldi was named to the top spot of a list of global brands ranked by their simplicity by Siegel + Gale, which announced findings of its annual Global Simplicity Index on Wednesday.

The report, based on a study of 10,000 consumers in seven countries, scored Aldi as the most simple global brand, up nine spots from last year.


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“With more than 9,000 stores worldwide and a brand that ‘focuses on the essentials, no matter what city,’ Aldi has made the most of its good-value-for-the-money reputation with both recession-strapped customers and shoppers just looking to spend less,” Seigel + Gale said.

In U.S. rankings, grocery chains Publix (7th overall), Trader Joe’s (12th), Kroger (18th), Whole Foods (24th), Albertsons (30th) and Safeway (45th) were ranked. Grocery stores ranked as the 6th most simple industry overall.

According to the study, brands perceived as “simple” also tend to reap financial benefits, including higher customer loyalty; greater willingness from consumers to pay; and increased employee innovation. The study said consumers were willing to pay 3.6% to 4% more for a simpler experience in the grocery category.

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Tops Twitter followers to get special deal on mangos

Tops Friendly Markets, a full-service grocery retailer in upstate New York and northern Pennsylvania, announced a partnership with the National Mango Board to offer an exclusive savings offer for customers who follow the company on Twitter.

New and current Twitter followers will automatically receive a direct message from the Tops Friendly Markets produce twitter account, @TopsProduce, providing them with a coupon for 50 cents off their next purchase of a mango from their local Tops Friendly Markets produce department.

“Mangos offer an array of health benefits in addition to their delicious taste,” Steven Wright, Tops director of produce, said in a press release. “We’re encouraging shoppers to discover this superfood by offering this exclusive social media savings for all of our twitter followers.”

In addition to their tropical flavor, mangos deliver a host of nutrients and make healthy eating an enjoyable experience. Each serving of mango is fat-free, sodium-free and cholesterol-free, and mangos contain over 20 different vitamins and minerals, helping to make them a superfood.

Tops Markets operates 159 full-service supermarkets — 154 company-owned and five franchise locations — under the Tops and Bryant’s banners.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

Dividend Expenses Lead Tops to First-Half Loss

WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. — The acquisition of former Grand Union stores helped Tops Markets post higher sales, but expenses associated with a dividend payment and slight declines in same-store sales and margins led to a net loss of $ 9.5 million for the 28-week period that ended July 13.

The privately held retailer revealed its sales figures in a debt-refinancing proposal filed with federal authorities. For the period, sales improved 6% to $ 1.3 billion, boosted in part by last October’s acquisition of 21 GU Markets stores from C&S Wholesale Grocers. Same-store sales decreased by 0.5% for the half year, and average weekly sales per store also decreased to $ 318,667 from $ 328,090 in the same period in 2012. Tops said sales were negatively affected by declines in pharmacy sales attributable to a shift from branded to generic drugs.

Read more: Tops Plans Rochester-Area Makeovers


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Operating income was negatively affected by $ 6.8 million in bonuses paid to stock option holders following the distribution of a $ 141.9 million dividend payment to shareholders in May, the company said. In addition, the company incurred an incremental stock-based compensation expense of $ 3.5 million associated with stock option re-pricing and vesting acceleration.

Tops, which operates 155 stores, is offering to exchange notes of $ 460 million due in 2017 and $ 150 million in 2018 notes.

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Tops Plans Rochester-Area Makeovers

WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. — Tops Friendly Markets here said Thursday it plans to open a 52,000-square-foot replacement store in Irondequoit, N.Y., part of a $ 13 million investment in the Rochester region.

“The Rochester area and Monroe County are a very important part of our overall corporate strategy,” said Frank Curci, president and chief executive officer, Tops. “Including current projects and those completed over the past three years, we are investing $ 21.3 million in our Rochester area stores to make for a better shopping experience for our customers.”


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The Rochester market is also home to one of Tops’ main rivals in western New York, Wegmans Food Markets, wich has about half the market share there, according to Metro Market Studies. Wal-Mart Stores and Tops are far behind at No. 2 and 3, with shares in the mid-teens.

The new 52,000-square-foot Irondequoit store, featuring the company’s new prototype design, is scheduled to open in spring 2014. Curci described the layout as “more efficient,” with a better utilization of space as well as having a new, modern look and feel. The new layout will allow for better display of products, especially in the store’s fresh departments, including meat, seafood, bakery and produce. The store will also boast a fueling station.

Curci also discussed plans for investing in other Monroe County Tops locations:

• A new 55,000-square-foot store at Frontier Commons Plaza will replace the company’s current store on Jefferson Road. The store will also boast the company’s new-store prototype as well as a fueling station. Both the Irondequoit and Henrietta stores will remain open during the transition and all Tops associates will transition to the new stores.

Read more: Tops Converts 12 More Grand Unions

• The Tops location on Clinton Avenue in Brighton is currently undergoing a major remodel and expansion including major interior renovations, a new parking lot, store front and landscaping, to be completed by the end of 2013.

• Tops’ Perinton store located at Pittsford/Palmyra Road will add a fuel station; construction will begin in the next several weeks.

• Curci announced that the Penfield Tops located at 1601 Penfield Road will undergo a $ 1 million renovation that will be complete in 2014.

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Tops Markets pushes produce consumption with reward program

Tops Markets, a leading full-service grocery retailer in upstate New York, northern Pennsylvania and western Vermont, has partnered with Independent Health on a program that will reward the health plan’s members for purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables.

Independent Health is the first health plan in New York state to introduce a nutrition benefit as part of its health coverage that provides members with the opportunity to receive money-back rewards for buying fresh fruits and vegetables.

The nutrition benefit will be available exclusively to Independent Health members beginning Jan. 1, 2014.

The nutrition benefit will be available through all Tops Friendly Market Stores in western New York. For every $ 2 an Independent Health member spends on fresh fruits and vegetables at Tops, the member will receive a $ 1 credit for in-store grocery purchases.

Members can earn up to $ 1,000 on their food purchases each year on a family plan and up to $ 500 on a single plan, with the benefit rewards to be tracked through the Tops BonusPlus program.

“As a local company, we are always looking for ways to help our neighbors make good nutritional decisions for themselves and their families,” Frank Curci, president and chief executive officer of Tops Markets, said in a press release. “We are proud to partner with Independent Health to bring this convenient, affordable and valuable benefit option to the western New York community.”

The latest dietary guidelines call for a minimum of five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, depending on one’s caloric intake, age, gender and physical activity. However, the average American only gets a total of about three servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

In western New York, only 25 percent of adults are eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily, according to Western New York Health Care Performance Measures.

Tops Markets LLC, headquartered in Williamsville, NY, operates 159 full-service supermarkets under the Tops and Orchard Fresh banners. Of the total, 154 are company-owned stores and five are operated as franchise locations.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

Foxy partners with Tops Friendly Markets on Facebook promotion

Tops Friendly Markets, based in Buffalo, NY, and Salinas, CA-based Foxy Fresh Produce have jointly launched the “Foxy Dish up Something Fresh” Facebook photo contest. The contest asks Tops customers to submit a photograph of a recipe featuring Foxy Fresh Produce to the Tops Market Facebook page, and be entered for a chance to win one of multiple prizes.

The contest was first announced Aug. 1 in stores at all Tops Friendly Markets locations, with submissions being accepted from Aug. 4-17. The winners of the contest, determined by popular vote, will receive Tops gift cards valued at $ 200, $ 100 or $ 50, with those garnering the highest number of votes receiving the highest valued gift cards.

The contest is being promoted through the Foxy Produce and Tops’ social media channels, as well as through in-store displays in the Tops produce departments.

“We are especially excited about this partnership and campaign because we are able to combine our social media efforts, with great in store visibility, keeping Foxy Produce top of mind at the point of purchase,” Alethea Prewett, digital marketing coordinator for Foxy Produce, said in a press release. “Then driving those individuals back to our online properties to engage with us there.”

The in-store displays and social promotion should drive positive engagement and conversations about both Tops and Foxy Produce, according to the press release.

“We are thrilled about this opportunity for Tops, partnering and bringing our social media efforts together to create an engaging campaign for both our customers,” Jill Zak, marketing/social media intern at Tops Markets, added in the press release. “Both brands are excited for the opportunity to reward involved and loyal customers, while encouraging the purchase of fresh, healthy Foxy Produce.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

Tops Converts 12 More Grand Unions

WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. — Tops Friendly Markets here said Tuesday it has converted the remaining 12 Grand Union stores it acquired last year to the Tops banner.


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“The entire Tops team has worked very hard to that ensure our new store customers will have a more enjoyable shopping experience as they see the many changes in the setting, amenities and an increased variety of products that our neighborhood stores will offer,” said Frank Curci, Tops’ president and chief executive officer, in a statement. “And we want to continue the tradition of giving back and being active members of the local community.”

Opening ceremonies at the stores featured the announcement of capital improvements made at each store, as well as donations made on behalf of Tops to various local charities through the company’s “Living Here. Giving Here” community partnership program. Store improvements include a wider variety and selection of branded products, interior and exterior renovations and refinished store fronts.

Read more: Tops Converts Nine Grand Unions

The 12 Grand Union stores were part of a 21-store acquisition that Tops acquired last year. The other nine locations were converted earlier this year.

The latest conversions are in the upstate New York towns of Corinth, Warrensburg, Bolton Landing, Saranac Lake (two stores), Elizabethtown, Chestertown, Peru, North Creek, Ausable Forks, Schroon Lake and Northville.

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