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Saturday, August 9, 2014

3 Market Basket board members say they have plan

BOSTON – Three members of Market Basket’s board of directors say they’ve proposed a plan to get the beleaguered supermarket chain back to normal operations with the help of its fired chief executive officer, but he doesn’t like it.

In a statement Friday, the three board members said their proposal would let ex-CEO Arthur T. Demoulas and his former management team assist in a return to normal operations but not take control as he continues to pursue his intent to buy the company. ...

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BOSTON – Three members of Market Basket’s board of directors say they’ve proposed a plan to get the beleaguered supermarket chain back to normal operations with the help of its fired chief executive officer, but he doesn’t like it.

In a statement Friday, the three board members said their proposal would let ex-CEO Arthur T. Demoulas and his former management team assist in a return to normal operations but not take control as he continues to pursue his intent to buy the company.

A spokeswoman for Demoulas called the offer an attempt to have him stabilize the company while the board members consider selling it to another bidder.

Demoulas was fired in June by the board, which has been controlled by his rival cousin, Arthur S. Demoulas.

Thousands of Market Basket workers and customers have
rallied to pressure management to reinstate Arthur T. Demoulas or accept his offer to buy the New England chain.

Over the past two weeks, hundreds of warehouse workers and drivers have refused to make deliveries to the family-owned chain’s 71 stores in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine, leaving stock severely depleted and prompting customers to shop at other grocery stores.

Earlier Friday, Gov. Deval Patrick urged Market Basket’s board of directors to quickly resolve the leadership question. In a letter to the board, Patrick wrote that he’s not choosing sides but, “by any measure, the disruption that followed your recent change in CEO has gotten out of hand.”

The board members said they made the offer to Arthur T. Demoulas several days ago. On Sunday, he had offered to return as CEO while sale talks continue.

The three board members, part of a seven-member board, said their proposal would allow him and all people who resigned or were dismissed to assist the company’s return to normal business operations while retaining the current management.

“Any delay to reaching agreement on this path forward simply harms associates, customers and the company,” the three board members said. “It is time to move on.”

Arthur T. Demoulas spokeswoman Justine Griffin called the offer disingenuous. She said all three board members were appointed by Arthur S. Demoulas’ side of the family. She also said that Arthur T. Demoulas has on three occasions offered to bring back his management team to work to stabilize the company and each time the offer was rejected.

“This is far too serious a situation for these games and attempts at window dressing,” she wrote. “It is a serious issue that deserves a serious solution.”

Patrick offered any help he or members of his senior staff can supply to find a solution to the dispute roiling the company.

“I am appealing to you to consider as well the broader implications and impact of your decision and resolve it soon, so that economic peace is restored and the workers’ future is secure,” Patrick wrote.

The three board members said they welcome the chance to meet with Patrick and New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan for help in ending the impasse.

On Thursday, Market Basket’s new CEOs denied the company was laying off workers, saying store directors have been told to adjust workers’ hours to meet current demand and the company hopes to get back to normal business soon.