Published: Thu, February 22, 2018
Business | By Tara Barton

Tops files for restructuring under bankruptcy law

Tops files for restructuring under bankruptcy law

Tops Markets is beginning the process of filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the grocery store chain's CEO confirms.

In court papers, Chief Restructuring Officer Michael Buenzow said the 2007 purchase of the company and subsequent transactions by Morgan Stanley's private equity arm "saddled the company with an unsustainable amount of debt on its balance sheet".

The company says Tops customers should see no difference in their store's operation. Bloomberg reported on Saturday that Tops has almost $1 billion in debt.

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Tops Friendly Markets operates grocery stores throughout upstate NY, northern Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Vermont.

A 2017 Reuters report said the company had $723 million in debt. "We are pursuing a voluntary financial restructuring that will help make us a stronger competitor". "This will enable us to invest further in our stores, create an even more exceptional shopping experience for our customers and compete more effectively in today's highly competitive and evolving market", he said. Tops also intends to pay vendors and suppliers in full under normal terms for goods and services provided after the February 21 filing date. It expects to receive court approval for its restructuring requests and to continue paying employee benefits and wages without interruption. "We believe the financing that we received from our noteholders is a vote of confidence in our business".

According to its website, Tops operates 169 full-service supermarkets, along with an additional five operated by franchisees under the Tops banner, and employs more than 15,000 people.

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