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    Tops Said Mulling Up to 10 New Stores

    The grocer is also pouring $150 million into the upkeep of its existing locations.

    Tops

    Eager to bolster its position as the largest supermarket chain in the Buffalo, N.Y. market, Tops Markets, LLC reportedly is looking at opening seven to 10 locations while investing $150 million in its existing stores over the next five years.

    The first phase of the improvement program occurred this past fall, when Tops revamped its Olean, N.Y. store. Next to come is an extensive renovation of the company's Hamburg, N.Y. unit, which c.e.o. Frank Curci told Business First of Buffalo would cost $4 million to $5 million. The Hamburg store overhaul should be completed during the first quarter of 2009.

    According to Curci, 60 Tops stores have been earmarked for renovations that will run the gamut from minor tweaks to total revamps, and the entire store base is due to receive the once-over, the company said.

    "Every single store we own will have been touched within the next five years, whether it's a touch-up or a major renovation," Tops spokeswoman Katie McKenna told the Buffalo News.

    "It's always our goal to make our stores as current, modern and energy-efficient as possible to strengthen our position in the marketplace and to strengthen our brand," added McKenna.

    New stores will probably be built in Buffalo, Rochester, and some areas in the mid-state Ithaca, N.Y. area.

    Tops said it should have further specifics on construction of the new stores after the New Year.

    A former Ahold USA banner acquired last year by Morgan Stanley Private Equity for $310 million, Williamsville, N.Y.-based Tops operates 76 stores.

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