Tops Friendly Markets, a Western New York staple for decades, may be heading for bankruptcy. Bloomberg.com is reporting the supermarket chain could file papers this month seeking court protection from creditors. Following the story is Jim Fink of Business First who believes the news may be premature.
"It's probably too early to start writing corporate obituaries for Tops Markets," Fink told WBFO News. He has been hearing the bankruptcy rumors in recent months, but they have yet to come to fruition.
Though the chain has gone through a series of ownership changes in recent years, the Western New York-based company still enjoys a solid market share.
"Tops is like the Chevrolet. They're the chain for Everyman," Fink said.
"Tops really is the Everyman's supermarket. There's nothing wrong with that. That's a great place to be."
Still, the company is struggling with a reported debt load of $620 million. Local competition has increased.
"Wegmans, clearly impacts Tops and its business model. There's also Whole Foods. Trader Joe's. Aldi's. On-line shopping. Wal-Marts."
The reported move coincides with the growing struggles of brick-and-mortar retailers. Another large grocery chain, Winn-Dixie, Bloomberg.com reports, may also file for bankruptcy in the coming weeks.
Tops owns about 170 stores and employs 14,000 workers. Company officials have not commented on the Bloomberg report.