The beloved, profitable, worker-friendly Market Basket grocery chain is back in the hands of former CEO Arthur T Demoulas, following a mass worker and management revolt at the news that Demoulas's cousin, Arthur S Demoulas, was taking over the company, bringing in a notorious former Radio Shack CEO, and getting set to break up and sell off the company in order to extract higher dividends for shareholders.
Mike the Bard (who has participated in an epic threat in our BBS on the fight) explains:
The remaining shares of Market Basket will be sold to Arthur T Demoulas for $1.5 billion dollars.
Arthur T built the company to 71 stores, which Consumer Reports named the #6th best in the country- On a policy of low prices, high wages, and generous benefits. The chain was known to promote from within, and nearly all executives making 6 figure salaries after 20, 30, even 50 years with the company started off bagging and stocking shelves. When the employee retirement fund lost $47 million in the market crash, Arthur replenished the losses from company profits.
When his cousin Arthur S Demoulas took control of the company, Arthur T was fired, and employees from baggers to top-level management walked out in an unprecedented show of solidarity to their former CEO and fear that Arthur T's replacements, former Radio Shack president James Gooch and Felicia Thornton, who brokered the sale of Albertsons, would strip the company of all value and sell off the dessicated husk for the benefit of the half-dozen or so shareholders.
The standoff has continued for the last two months, with employees openly protesting at stores and supporting a customer boycott that reduced sales by 95%, while management resorted to threats, firings, and patronizing official statements rather than reinstate the formerly successful CEO.
It now looks like an end to the conflict is imminent, as the board and majority shareholders have agreed to a deal to sell Arthur T the company at pre-crisis value.
This has been a battle for the soul of capitalism: between those who build successful brands, and those who tear them apart to sell for scrap. This time, the employees fought back. And it looks very much like they won.
He’s Baaaaaack: Arthur T. to Buy Market Basket [Adam Vaccaro/Boston.com]
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