, Newburyport, MA


July 14, 2014

At Market Basket, cleanup on manager aisle needed

Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. The Hatfields and McCoys. Arthur S. and Arthur T. Demoulas.

All these feuds stretched for more than a decade; the first two didn’t end well.

It remains to be seen how the Demoulas feud, with the future of a $4 billion supermarket empire in the middle, will play out.

A family feud has been simmering, sometimes boiling over, for decades over control of Demoulas Super Markets Inc. and its 71 stores. Last month, Arthur T. was removed as president and CEO, and two other top executives booted.

It was but the latest chapter in a fight that has played out in the aisles of the widely beloved grocery store chain.

Greek immigrants Arthur and Efrosini Demoulas, grandparents of the quarreling cousins, likely never foresaw their company’s growth over the past century, nor the food fight that would ensue among their descendants.

Employees and shoppers have joined the fray — in a big way.

A Save Market Basket Facebook page has more than 20,000 “likes.” It’s an online forum for “the people of Market Basket,” a place to voice opinions, concerns, stay informed. It was started in June 2013, at the time of the first push to oust Arthur T.

During a move to oust Arthur T. last year, customers and employees signed online and in-store petitions — to the tune of 50,000 each — to block the move.

Corporate employees last week served the company’s board of directors notice they would no longer communicate with the new management team.

This war of resistance is being waged, not so quietly, within the walls of a privately held, for-profit grocery store business.

Some employees quit their own jobs in protest after Arthur T. was checked out. Other workers worry, with good cause, about the future of their benefits and employment.

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