A beloved chief executive ousted from a New England supermarket chain will return to the company after a massive outpouring of support that included worker strikes and a shopper boycott.
Arthur T. Demoulas will take control of Market Basket after an agreement was reached at $1.5 billion for the 50.5% of the company owned by rival shareholders, including his cousin, Arthur S. Demoulas, according to a statement from the company.
“Effective immediately, Arthur T. Demoulas is returning to Market Basket with day-to-day operational authority of the company,” the statement said.
The deal was reached Wednesday night.
Demoulas and his team will run the company on an interim basis while the deal is being completed, according to the statement.
The Market Basket chain, which has 25,000 employees and 71 stores in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine, was founded by Greek immigrant Arthur Demoulas nearly a century ago.
His two grandsons, Arthur S. Demoulas and Arthur T. Demoulas, have warred over control of the company for decades. In June, Arthur S. gained control of the company board and fired Arthur T., who had been chief executive for eight years and had been managing the company for years before that.
It's Arthur T. who employees say instituted a profit-sharing plan that allows retirees to walk away with an impressive retirement plan, who gave holiday bonuses, who encouraged grocery baggers to work their way up the corporate ladder to a corner office. It's Arthur T. who kept prices fair for customers, and who treated suppliers fairly, and who always had a kind word for every customer, employer and supplier he encountered.
Eight middle managers in the corporate office in June asked for the chief executive to be reinstated; they were fired a few weeks later after leading protests about the firing. One rally at company headquarters drew 10,000 employees, customers and other supporters.
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan hailed the deal in a statement to the news media:
“We are delighted that the parties have reached agreement on terms of sale and resolution of operating authority, so that employees can return to work and customers will once again be able to rely on these stores to meet their needs.”
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