Market Basket keeps current CEO

Employees say they are relieved

RINDGE — After a slew of employees and customers made their support known, Arthur T. Demoulas will keep his position as CEO of Market Basket, following a meeting of the store’s Board of Directors many believed would end with his firing.

Employees feared Demoulas would be ousted in favor of his cousin, Arthur S. Demoulas. But after thousands of Market Basket employees and customers signed petitions in favor of keeping the company’s current CEO, known to many of his employees as “Artie T,” the Board of Directors did not make a motion to remove Demoulas as expected.

The board gathered in Andover, Mass., for a court-ordered meeting Thursday morning, which lasted for 13 hours, according to a statement issued by a spokesperson for Arthur T. Demoulas on Friday, but left the meeting without removing Demoulas.

“I am pleased with today’s result,” Arthur T. Demoulas is quoted as saying in the statement. “I hope to work constructively with the board going forward. It is my desire to continue to look out for the best interests of or customers and employees. Together, we have built a fine organization and I am extremely proud of you. Thanks to everybody for their tremendous outpouring of support.”

In the days leading up to the meeting, Market Basket employees at stores in both New Hampshire and Massachusetts collected thousands of signatures on their own time, said Rindge Market Basket employee Angela Bangston of Jaffrey on July 16.

Movements on both Twitter and Facebook cropped up in support of Demoulas, too. On Thursday, photographs of hundreds of supporters in Andover, Mass., holding signs in support of “Artie T” were posted on the Facebook page “Save Market Basket.”

Nick Babineau of Fitchburg, Mass., who has worked for Market Basket for 16 years and for the Rindge store since 1999, wrote in an email to the Ledger-Transcript on Friday that he was relieved the board hadn’t removed Demoulas. “I knew this was a major issue and could change the history of Market Basket forever,” Babineau wrote. “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. 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.”

The grocery chain, which has stores in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, and has begun to expand into Maine, has been family run since 1916, when it was a single family grocer.

The store took off when brothers Telemachus and George Demoulas took over the company from their parents in 1954. Arthur T. Demoulas is descended from Telemachus Demoulas, while his cousin, Arthur S. Demoulas, is descended from George Demoulas’ side of the family. Following a court battle in the ’90s, Arthur S. Demoulas and George Demoulas’ descendents became the primary shareholders in the company.

While George Demoulas’ family has held the majority share, Arthur T. Demoulas has been the company CEO since 2008.

Calls seeking comment from Market Basket Headquarters, located in Tewksbury, Mass., were not returned by press time Monday.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.

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