Curci Back as C.E.O. at Newly Sold Tops Markets

NEW YORK -- Morgan Stanley Private Equity here said yesterday that it has completed its acquisition of Tops Markets, LLC from Ahold for $310 million. It appointed company veteran Frank Curci as Tops' c.e.o., effective immediately.

"Frank Curci brings 25 years of supermarket experience to the role, most notably as the c.e.o. of Tops until 2003," said Gary Matthews, managing director and operating partner at Morgan Stanley Private Equity, in a statement. "The enthusiasm of Tops' associates to welcome Frank as their CEO has been terrific. That employee passion, as well as Frank's leadership abilities and extensive experience, all underscore our belief that we can continue Tops' tradition of outstanding service to customers and enhance its position as a leading supermarket in the region."

Curci most recently was c.o.o. for Birmingham, Ala.-based Southern Family markets, a subsidiary of C&S Wholesale Grocers, where he guided the startup of two chains embodying the neighborhood grocery store format.

While at Ahold from 1995 to 2003, he was c.e.o. of Tops, and also held senior leadership positions at the Bi-Lo chain in Mauldin, S.C., and Edwards Super Food stores on the East Coast. Curci additionally spent nine years at Mayfair Supermarkets, which operated as Foodtown in New Jersey.

Morgan Stanley Private Equity said it will keep Williamsville, N.Y.-based Tops running as an ongoing grocery store concern, retaining all 10,000 store associates, field staff, and corporate office staff. It additionally said it would bring back about 100 merchandising, IT, and finance-related positions to the Buffalo, N.Y. company-jobs that Ahold had exported to sister chain Giant-Carlisle in Pennsylvania.

Tops today operates under the Tops Markets and Martin's Super Food Stores banners and consists of 71 company-owned and five franchise supermarket grocery stores in western and midstate New York and northwestern Pennsylvania. Founded as a neighborhood grocery chain in the early 1960s in Buffalo, Tops was acquired in 1991 by Dutch retail conglomerate Ahold.

The divestment of Tops was part of Ahold's strategy crafted in an exhaustive retail review it unveiled in November 2006.

Part of Morgan Stanley Investment Management's Merchant Banking Division, Tops' new owner Morgan Stanley Private Equity makes global private equity and equity-related investments.
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