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Union answers report on possible Tops Markets bankruptcy

(18 NEWS) - The union president that represents employees of Tops Friendly Markets responded to the Bloomberg article stating the grocer chain is preparing bankruptcy filings with a statement on Sunday.

Frank DeRiso, president of UFCW Local One, which represents 12,000 Tops workers, said in a statement:

"Over the past several months we have been meeting with financial advisors hired by our international union to continually monitor the finances of Tops Markets. As reported earlier the company has hired Evercore (a global independent private investment firm) to help them restructure their enormous debt."

In 2017, Reuters reported the supermarket chain had a $723 million debt load.

A Reuters report last month said that in addition to its debt, Tops has significant pension liabilities. Regulatory filings suggest the grocer could owe as much as $184 million, stemming from a 2013 acquisition of a logistics firm that operates its warehouses in upstate New York.

While it is still unclear if the company plans to file for bankruptcy, DeRiso said the union's contract is still in full effect and they are monitoring the situation and will keep members informed of new developments.

"Since mid January, UFCW Local One has been consulted by our legal team consisting of health care, pension and 401K attorneys and an attorney that specializes in restructuring and bankruptcy filings. We have additional meetings set up this coming week to discuss more strategies to hit this situation head on."

Reuters report last month said that in addition to its debt, Tops has significant pension liabilities. Regulatory filings suggest the grocer could owe as much as $184 million, stemming from a 2013 acquisition of a logistics firm that operates its warehouses in upstate New York.

A report published by Bloomberg says two U.S. supermarket chains are preparing bankruptcy filings. That's according to sources with knowledge on the matter.

Sources say Bi-Lo LLC, the company that owns Winn-Dixie supermarkets, could file in the coming weeks. The owner of Tops Friendly Markets however, may be able to seek court protection from creditors sometime this month.

With more and more competitors, the grocery industry is even more challenging these says than it was in the past. 

Sources say Bi-Lo is planning to close nearly 200 stores, but it's unclear if that will happen before or after the filing. 

This isn't the first time the business has gone bankrupt, similar issues arose in 2005 and 2009. The Bloomberg report says the company still could find a way to restructure their debt out of court.

18 News reached out to Tops' spokesperson over the weekend for comment and have not yet heard back.

 


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