Here is another in our series of things going on around Rochester.

Grocery chain and retailer Tops has refocused on a local leadership strategy, and its fiscal numbers from 2014 appear to validate that decision. Tops Holding II Corp., the parent company behind Tops Friendly Markets LLC, saw a lower net loss and higher net sales in its fourth fiscal quarter, the Rochester Business Journal reported March 27.

“2014 was a big year for Tops, highlighted by the return to an independent, locally owned organization and achieving record net sales,” Frank Curci, president and CEO, said in a statement. “Our solid results demonstrate the success of our strategy and effective execution by all of our associates.”

Tops had a net loss of $4.6 million, a significant drop from $18.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2013. Net sales rose slightly, to $574 million from $571 million last year.

Fuel sales dropped by 7.7%, totaling $43.5 million, but only because of a decline in average gas prices; the number of gallons sold by the company actually increased by 3.5%.

Altogether, Tops generated about $38 million from 2014 operations.

“As we move through 2015, we will remain focused on our strategy and dig deeper to continually evolve,” said Curci. “We are looking at all aspects of the business with an eye on the long term.”

Big Competition

In February, Tops was also named Independent Retailer of the Year by New York-based industry publication Grocery Headquarters.

As the article announcing the award noted, this is no small feat given that Tops faces off against Wegmans, which has been lauded for its groundbreaking marketing and merchandising strategies in the grocery world.

Retail marketing is becoming increasingly complex, especially as links between online and in-store interactions strengthen. Recent studies show, for example, that between 65% and 70% of consumers head to a store in person after seeing online search ads.

According to Curci, the key to Tops’ recent relative success is staying true to its brand identity and not attempting to expand too far.

“We understand our customers and our place in this market,” Curci told Grocery Headquarters. “It is a very competitive marketplace, but we have carved out our niche and have developed a great plan that brings us close to the community. I think it is very fair to say that we don’t try to be something we are not.”