On Tuesday, the Federal Trade Commission ordered that The Golub Corp., the owner of the Price Chopper chain, and Tops Market Corp. to divest 12 of their Tops supermarkets to C&S Wholesale Grocers. This is because a proposed merger between the former two companies was considered to be anticompetitive and would drastically reduce competition in areas of New York and Vermont.
The affected areas are Cooperstown, Cortland, Oneida, Owego, Norwich, Warrensburg, Lake Placid, Rome, Watertown, and Plattsburgh, New York; and Rutland, Vermont.
The FTC concluded that this proposed merger would result in “highly concentrated markets” where prices could be raised “above competitive levels, unilaterally or by coordinating with competitors.” In order to prevent this, the FTC has ordered that 12 Tops supermarkets will be given to C&S in total, starting on January 17th, 2022. They will have to divest two stores per week, for six weeks. However, if C&S is deemed to not be fit for owning these supermarkets, the FTC will choose another company, and the Tops supermarkets will have to be sold elsewhere. Also, Price Chopper cannot acquire more supermarkets in the targeted areas without FTC approval.
In order to future-proof their plan, the FTC included provisions in their order that C&S cannot sell these supermarkets for at least three years after acquiring them, unless they are approved. If C&S wants to sell the Tops markets to buyers with stores already in these areas, they must wait a minimum of seven years and have the FTC’s approval.