Tops Markets yesterday (11 October) announced that it will sell 18 Ohio stores to its competitor Giant Eagle ), in a move that signalled the retailer’s retreat from the regional market.

Giant Eagle is the area’s largest grocery retailer, with 42% of the Greater Cleveland market. It is buying 13 stores in Cuyahoga County, two in Summit County and one in Lorain, Medina and Huron counties. The stores employ 1,800 salaried and hourly workers, who will be allowed to apply to Giant Eagle for their jobs.

Giant Eagle will close four of its own stores where it has duplicate locations, moving into the four larger Tops premises.

The remaining 28 Tops locations in Ohio will continue to operate until a buyer is found. The company said it expects to make additional announcements as agreements with other buyers are completed.