Market merger will be good for shoppers

Mark Gutman/Daily News The Federal Trade Commission has approved the merger of Tops Markets and Price Chopper. The approval was announced Monday, clearing the way legally for the two supermarket chains to join.

When political powerhouses like state Attorney General Letitia James and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., weigh in on a merger between two local supermarket chains, there’s more going on than the current rise in meat prices.

That’s what happened Wednesday when the Federal Trade Commission announced that it approved the merger of Tops Markets and Price Chopper/Market32.

The two companies will be managed locally by their respective executives and will continue to do business under their current names, according to the terms of the agreement.

Tops Markets is one of the region’s largest private employers and grocery chains. It employs about 15,000 people and has stores in locations including Albion, Arcade, Attica, Avon, Batavia, Dansville, Le Roy and Warsaw.

As of February — when the merger plans were first announced — Tops Markets Tops Markets operated 162 grocery stores in New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont, including five run by franchisees.

Price Chopper/Market 32 operated 130 Price Chopper and Market 32 grocery stores, along with one Market Bistro. The chain employed 18,000 employees in New York, Vermont, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.

“Our communities and local economies are best served by healthy competition and the preservation of quality union jobs, so I’m happy to see that Price Chopper and Tops Market have reached a mutually agreeable solution with the workers of United Food & Commercial Workers Local One,” Schumer said in a statement. “I’m proud I stood with the thousands of workers of UFCW Local One over the years, from this merger to the successful effort to preserve union jobs during the Penn Traffic bankruptcy.”

James announced an agreement with the companies that run the Schenectady-based Price Chopper supermarket chain and the Williamsville-based Tops Friendly Market supermarket chain Tuesday that she said will help upstate New York residents maintain choices and competitive prices when shopping at local supermarkets.

“It’s simple: More choices and competition at the supermarket mean better prices and more savings for consumers,” James said. “As many New Yorkers continue to suffer the financial impact of the COVID-19 public health crisis, the last thing that should be happening is for supermarkets to let an anticompetitive merger cut choices and raise prices.”

Consumers, after all, kept the New York state economy from cratering at the height of the pandemic. Schumer and James know this. They also understand that shoppers pump money into the economy and they deserve a break when it comes to buying food and other necessities in the COVID era.

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