Hannaford Bros. Supermarkets on Thursday declined comment on a Boston Globe report indicating it had offered to buy all or part of the troubled Demoulas Market Basket chain, while debate over the fate of workers flared again as protests and a consumer boycott approached their third week.
The Globe report, based on anonymous sources, followed a report Wednesday in the New York Times suggesting that Demoulas, parent of the Market Basket chain, had drawn multiple bids from strategic buyers in addition to the offer from ousted president Arthur T. Demoulas to buy the shares in the company he does not already own. His removal as president in late June has sparked weeks of worker protests leading to bare shelves and an ongoing consumer boycott, costing the company millions.
One source told SN Thursday that the Times report, suggesting the board was considering “a dozen” offers including one from Arthur T. Demoulas, was accurate but was unable to provide additional detail. The Demoulas board has previously said it was considering “several” offers.
A spokesman for Hannaford, a division of Belgium’s Delhaize Group, would not confirm whether that company was one of them. Hannaford, based in Scarborough, Maine, competes with Market Basket in several Massachusetts and Maine markets.
“Consistent with established policy, Delhaize Group does not comment on rumors or speculation regarding plans to acquire or divest businesses,” spokesman Mike Norton told SN.
Also Thursday, Market Basket’s embattled co-CEO Felicia Thornton directed store managers to inform hourly employees whose hours have dwindled amid the ongoing chaos besetting the chain that they have not been fired.
The directive pointed to company policy stating that store managers can and should adjust worker hours to meet business demand but that managers “need to make clear when doing so that the individuals are still employees of [Demoulas Super Markets],” according to Thornton.
The company in turn said that it hoped to resume “normal business levels in the not too distant future and all associates will be back to a full schedule.”
The statements appeared to be aimed at stemming public belief that reduced worker hours were due to corporate directed firings. That belief may have also gained steam as a result of job fairs seeking potential replacement workers held by management earlier this week.
Uncertainly over the fate of Market Basket workers participating in the protests has already drawn the attention of the Massachusetts Attorneys General office, which on Thursday set up a hotline to field worker concerns.
Social media posts indicated at least some workers believe they have been laid off.
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