A New Era for Northeast Grocery

Company names new CEO and provides exclusive update on strategic plan
Gina Acosta
a woman smiling for the camera
Incoming CEO John Persons is a 40-year industry veteran.

Northeast Grocery Inc. (NGI) has taken another major step in its strategic transformation plan.

The company has elevated its COO, John Persons, to serve as CEO, effective Feb. 26. Current CEO Frank Curci is retiring from the company. NGI is the parent company of Price Chopper/Market 32 and Tops Friendly Markets. The parent company NGI was born when Price Chopper/Market 32 and Tops Markets merged in 2021. The merger nearly doubled the two Northeast grocers' collective footprints, with a combined total of nearly 300 stores.

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Persons will lead the parent organization while Blaine Bringhurst will continue to lead Price Chopper/Market 32 as president, and Ron Ferri will continue to lead Tops Friendly Markets as president.

Progressive Grocer had an opportunity to sit down with Persons, Bringhurst and Ferri at last week's FMI Midwinter Executive Conference, in which the team gave an update on the post-merger organizational structure and strategic plans.

"The merger allowed the two teams, Price Chopper/Market 32 and Tops Friendly Markets, to work together on developing the best practices and the processes moving forward," Persons said. "So not only did that ensure we'd stay connected to what our previous business practices were and ensure that we are connected with the community, but it also allowed for that long-term systematic engagement of the two company teams to help drive culture in a positive way. And that's really worked out well."

Persons has served as NGI’s COO since June 2023, overseeing both the Price Chopper/Market 32 and Tops Markets operating companies, as well as Northeast Shared Services’ merchandising and marketing functions.

Persons said the retailer is focused on engaging shoppers with new and improved loyalty programs and more promotions.

"During the pandemic, we were talking about supply chain issues. Now we need to talk about how we are going to move the product we have, how we're going to move those units," he said.

A 40-year industry veteran who started as a cashier at Tops and rose to the office of the president, Persons has spent his entire career with the Williamsville-based grocery chain and now NGI. During his tenure at Tops, he had oversight for various functions, including operations, merchandising, sales and marketing, real estate, information technology, and organizational strategy, all leading to his appointment as president in 2015. A Western New York native, Persons holds a B.A. and an M.B.A. from the University at Buffalo.

One of Curci’s accomplishments as NGI’s CEO has been to develop a team of seasoned executives across Tops, Price Chopper/Market 32, and Northeast Shared Services (a subsidiary of NGI providing services to both operating companies) capable of providing experienced leadership and fueling an internal succession plan. That plan ultimately led to the selection of Persons to succeed Curci.

“I am thrilled to lead NGI forward in collaboration with the talented teammates and associates at Northeast Shared Services, Price Chopper/Market 32 and Tops who are dedicated to nourishing the communities we serve,” said Persons. “On behalf of all 30,000 of us, I’d like to express gratitude to Frank Curci for his leadership and mentorship over the years and reiterate my commitment to build on the momentum and success that he has fostered.”

Based in Schenectady, N.Y., NGI is the parent company of Price Chopper/Market 32 and Tops Markets LLC, which collectively operate nearly 300 supermarkets across New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire and employ more than 30,000 associates/teammates. NGI is No. 45 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

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