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    Ohio Tops Stores Could Go to Multiple Buyers

    AMSTERDAM -- The 46 northeast Ohio Stores that Ahold is divesting might end up in the hands of multiple buyers, a Giant-Carlisle/Tops arena spokesman told Progressive Grocer.

    AMSTERDAM -- The 46 northeast Ohio Stores that Ahold is divesting might end up in the hands of multiple buyers, a Giant-Carlisle/Tops arena spokesman told Progressive Grocer.

    Denny Hopkins said that the company was "open to any and all options," including the sale of locations to several purchasers. The sale of the stores is expected to be completed by the end of the calendar year, he noted.

    Hopkins further said that the Tops divestment was unrelated to the future of Ahold's other U.S. banners.

    Until the stores are sold, the stores will operate as usual, he said, adding that he "[didn't] foresee any disruption in service to our communities" or in suppliers' deliveries.

    Ahold said late last it was divesting all 46 northeast Ohio stores of its underperforming Tops supermarket chain as part of a strategy to concentrate on the banner's core market area of New York and Pennsylvania, where the banner operates 73 stores. Northeast Ohio is considered a challenging market, due to what Hopkins referred to as the "increased presence of discount operators."

    The stores to be sold are in greater Cleveland, Akron, Youngstown, and Norwalk and currently employ about 3,800 full and part-time associates. Chicago-based William Blair & Co., LLC has been engaged to coordinate discussions with potential buyers.

    Tops attempted to improve its fortunes in Ohio last year by appointing a new regional executive, shutting two locations, and carrying prepackaged meat area stores, but still faced sliding sales.

    Last year, Ahold sold the Southeastern chains Bi-Lo and Bruno's.

    Tops Markets operates 119 Tops Markets and four Martin's Super Food Stores in New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.

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