Market Basket's CEO retains his position, at least for the time being.
The future of the grocery store chain was still unclear on Thursday night, as board members declined to vote on whether to keep Arthur T. Demoulas as CEO or replace him with his cousin, Arthur S. Demoulas. But the embattled CEO and his dedicated supporters can breathe a sigh of relief for now.
Arthur T. Demoulas released a statement Thursday night expressing that sense of relief:
"I am pleased with today's result. 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."
The board could take up the matter at their next meeting, scheduled for Aug. 22, according to the Boston Globe.
The showdown came after a long family battle for control of the company, and a decision could have brought sweeping changes for employees and the company's bottom line.
Grassroots for 'Artie'
Throughout the day, thousands of supporters of Arthur T. gathered in front of Wyndham Hotel in Andover, where the board was meeting. Temperatures were well into the 90s, but that didn't deter impassioned employees from going -- and staying -- to support their CEO. Many wore "I Support Artie T." shirts and carried signs showing their support.
Employees say they fear new corporate leadership will usher in higher prices, create debt and cut jobs, profit-sharing and benefits for employees.
"I called out of work for this and told them why," Lorenzo Carideo, employee of the Market Basket in Bedford, said. "I'm here for my job."
Di Paulo went to the rally with his younger brother, Tonio, who also works for the company. The brothers stayed there from 9 a.m. to almost 9 p.m.
"We've been here this long, so we might as well stay for the end," Lorenzo Di Paulo said.
To help the crowds, several employees brought trucks full of water, snacks and sandwiches throughout the day.
A Family Affair
Arthur T., a son of one of the company's founders, who has been in control of the company since 2008. That effort is led by Arthur S. Demoulas, the cousin of the CEO, who is also a son of one of the founders.
Arthur S. gained control of the board earlier this year and board members in favor of ousting Arthur T. criticize him for spending recklessly and ignoring the board.
Employees at Market Baskets across the region have been asking customers to sign a petition in favor of the current CEO.
Danvers employee Stefanie Faria has been active in the petition drive.
Faria, who lives in Peabody, started working at Market Basket when she was 14. Now 11 years later and an assistant head cashier, she says it's her career and really "a second home."
"When I'm not at home, I'm here working," she told Patch outside the Danvers store earlier this week. "We're all a family here."
"The current CEO is doing a great job," she said. "He's done everything he can for us."
Faria added that Arthur T. Demoulas regularly visits the stores, is on a first name basis with all full-time employees, chats with customers and even attends employees' family funerals.
She said employees -- there are 650 employees at the Danvers store -- are worried Arthur S. will raise prices for customers, add debt to the company and cut back on health benefits, jobs and profit-sharing. She said he's already indicated he would do that if he gains control.
An online "Save Market Basket" petition has also received more than 41,000 signatures and there's also a separate Facebook page dedicated to keep Arthur T. as CEO.
However, analysts such as this one quoted in the Lowell Sun say while the chain is well-run, it has missed opportunities to expand and would benefit from a change in leadership.