Royal Ahold Sells Tops Markets

Buffalo, N.Y., The new owners of Tops Markets LLC said they plan to keep the brand name in the local market and create up to 100 new corporate-level jobs, according to a report by Business First of Buffalo.

That announcement comes from officials with Morgan Stanley Private Equity, which is buying the Buffalo area's largest supermarket chain for $310 million from Royal Ahold. The deal, announced Thursday morning, is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year.

Ahold, based in The Netherlands, said in November 2006 it was seeking a buyer for the chain, which operates under the banners of Tops Markets and Martin's Super Food Stores.

Ahold acquired Tops in 1991 and in the past few years has sold dozens of stores in eastern New York state and northeastern Ohio as well as the Wilson Farms convenient store chain.

Max Henderson Jr., executive VP and general manager, will leave the company after the transaction is complete. His replacement will be Frank Curci, formerly a leading executive with Tops from 2000 to 2003. Most recently Curci was COO of Southern Family Markets, a subsidiary of C&S Wholesale Grocery Inc.

Tops has 41 stores in the Buffalo area, plus another five outlets that are franchised.

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