The board of directors of Demoulas Super Markets on Monday appointed Felicia Thornton and James “Jim” Gooch, as Market Basket’s chief operating officer and chief administrative officer, respectively. They will serve as co-CEOs, and succeed longtime president Arthur T. Demoulas, who was not re-elected to his role and will not retain any management responsibilities for the family-run company.
Arthur T. Demoulas remains a shareholder of the company.
“The Board believes this new management team will enable Market Basket to maximize its potential and pave the way for continued success in the future,” the board said in a statement.
The firing of Demoulas -- along with VP Joe Rockwell and Bill Marsden, Market Basket’s director of operations -- is an apparent decisive blow in a longstanding battle between Arthur T. Demoulas and a namesake cousin, Arthur S. Demoulas, who are descendants of the chain’s founding brothers. A faction led by Arthur S. Demoulas regained control of the board a year ago and immediately set an agenda at odds with that of his cousin including oversight of the company’s profit-sharing, real estate and bonus programs.
Conflict between the president and the board most recently have contributed to lengthy delays of the opening of stores in Revere and Andover, Mass. A 4% discount on all purchases enacted earlier this year by Arthur T. Demoulas also caused apparent consternation among the board.
Employees fiercely loyal to Demoulas, fearful that their generous profit-sharing and benefit programs are in danger, said they plan to rally in protest of the firing Tuesday at a Market Basket store in Chelsea, Mass.
Thornton and Gooch are experienced industry leaders. Thornton most recently served as CEO of Knowledge Universe U.S. prior to that she was CFO of Albertsons as well as a group VP at Kroger, where she led process improvements for all 20 retail divisions, manufacturing plants and the distribution network. She previously held financial and process improvement responsibilities with Fred Meyer and Ralphs Grocery Co. Gooch most recently served as president and CEO of Radio Shack where he previously was CFO for five years. He has also held executive roles with Kmart and Sears Holdings.
Marsden issued the following statement Monday: “The Board’s action today is driven by greed, pure and simple. Arthur T. Demoulas continued the tradition of his father, promising customers ‘More for Your Dollar.’ He was fired today after he built the most successful supermarket chain in the Northeast, one of the top in the country by most metrics. He is as committed to his customers as he is to his employees, his vendors, service providers and the communities in which we serve. He implemented a 4% across the board price cut for 2014 at a time when people needed it. In reaction, some Board Members threatened his job and litigation, so concerned were they that this would cut into the company’s profit.
“Along with Arthur T. Demoulas, I was also fired as was Joe Rockwell, VP of grocery. Combined we have more than 110 years of service to the company. Our crime was our commitment to Arthur T. Demoulas, the employees and the promise to customers to always honor the Market Basket commitment to high-quality and value.”
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