Tops Markets may be considering filing for bankruptcy

Ivan Schwartz
February 19, 2018

Bi-Lo LLC, the company that owns the Winn-Dixie chain of grocery stories, is approaching potential bankruptcy, according to sources familiar with the matter.

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

According to recent reports from Bloomberg and the UFCW Local One Union - which represents almost 12,000 Tops employees - finances for Tops Markets are under the microscope.

This isn't the first time the business has gone bankrupt, similar issues arose in 2005 and 2009.

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DeRiso noted that the company hired a private investment firm in January to help it restructure what he described as its "enormous debt". "The moves threaten to force older chains to either consolidate or revamp their operations". Tops declined to comment. Bi-Lo acquired Winn-Dixie in 2012. In addition to Winn-Dixie and Bi-Lo, Southeastern Grocer also operates under the Fresco y Mas and Harvey's names.

Tops was founded by Italian immigrant Ferrante Castellani, who opened its first store nearly a century ago in Niagara Falls.

Buyouts by Morgan Stanley - and later by the company's own managers - left Tops straining to keep up with debt payments. Since then, the Trump administration has contemplated more reductions.

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