Market Basket CEO ousted

Almost a year after hundreds of Market Basket’s employees and customers launched a movement in support of the supermarket’s longtime leader, Arthur T. Demoulas, the company’s board of directors decided to fire the CEO Monday. But employees who stood by Demoulas last summer, when the company’s Board of Directors held an earlier vote many worried would remove him from the position of CEO, say they will keep fighting.

Market Basket employees from different parts of New England rallied in Chelsea, Mass., Tuesday, to express their disapproval of the recent decision of the board, led in part by Demoulas’ cousin and rival, Arthur S. Demoulas.

Supporters carried posters and banners with messages like, “Save Market Basket. Save Artie T” and “We got your back Mr. D,” supporting Demoulas, who had been the company’s CEO since 2008.

“We are shocked about everything that happened. It’s something that we have push through, there is nothing we can do right now apart from getting our word of support out there,” Matt Maguire, an 18-year-old employee at the Londonderry Market Basket said in a phone interview Wednesday. Maguire’s father is a Market Basket store manager.

Attempts to contact Market Basket headquarters in Tewksbury, Mass., were unsuccessful by press time.

Nick Babineau of Fitchburg, Mass., has worked at the Rindge Market Basket store since 1999. Babineau was the night supervisor at the Rindge store on Tuesday, going into work just a few hours after the news of Demoulas’ firing became public. Babineau declined to comment on the firing and told the Ledger-Transcript that employees haven’t received any information from company headquarters beyond what’s in the official statement.

Like Babineau, Rindge store supervisor Bill Dube declined to comment.

A statement released by the company’s board spokesperson Monday said that Demoulas will maintain his shares in the company, but will no longer hold a managing position, and that Vice President Joe Rockwell and Director of Operations Bill Marsden are no longer part of the company,

The press release issued by the Board on Tuesday also said that Felicia Thornton and James Gooch, who had served as consultants to the company, have become the co-chief executive officers of Market Basket.

“The Board believes this new management team will enable Market Basket to maximize its potential and pave the way for continued success in the future,” the company’s statement reads.

However, some employees have said no new management could top Arthur Demoulas’ charisma. Last July, when Demoulas’ position was also in jeopardy, Babineau wrote in a statement to the Ledger-Transcript, “Arthur T. Demoulas [is] like no other CEO I’ve ever heard about. He would go to the stores and talk to the employees and customers, [and] ask them suggestions for how to make Market Basket better than it already is. You could just tell that Market Basket was more than his company, it was his family. No one told the employees that we had to support him. We chose to.”

Market Basket currently has 71 stores in New England, including 29 in New Hampshire. Employees from different locations have gathered on social media to express their support and love for Demoulas.

The Facebook group “Save Market Basket” currently has 19,255 followers. Some employees have also started an online petition through the website change.org, requesting that Demoulas be reinstated. As of Wednesday afternoon, 2,906 people had signed the petition.

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