ANDOVER — Market Basket CEO Arthur T. Demoulas received superstar treatment from hundreds of loyal employees as he arrived in town yesterday morning. The raucous show of support just may have saved his job.
Demoulas’ backers lined Old River Road before a company board meeting at the Wyndham Hotel, where a majority of the board of directors was expected to oust him as CEO in favor of cousin Arthur S. Demoulas.
The Market Basket board chose not to vote on the question of new CEO last night. There is no word yet about whether or not the board will take up the question at it’s meeting in a few weeks.
The supermarket chain’s Board of Directors was poised to consider replacing the current CEO with his cousin, Arthur S. Demoulas, with some directors accusing Arthur T. Demoulas of ignoring the board’s directives and misspending money.
Supporters of Arthur T. Demoulas, however, say the chain’s signature low prices will rise and employees won’t be treated as well if Arthur S. Demoulas takes over.
Employees at stores across the North Shore and into New Hampshire this past weekend also collected signatures from customers urging that the board keep Arthur T. Demoulas as head of what has become a 71-store grocery chain across Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and workers took out full page ads in several North Shore newspapers, including the Times and its sister papers in the North of Boston Media Group, on Wednesday reading, in part, “Do Not Fire Arthur T. Demoulas,” and “Do Not Jeopardize Our Future.”
The company’s growth came to include the Cape Ann store at Gloucester Crossing, where the company also served as primary investor in the entire complex.
The Demoulas family also holds property in West Gloucester on the site of what was once the old Gloucester Drive-In movie theater, and had initially pursued a store for that site, but shifted its focus instead to the Gloucester Crossing and partnered with developer Sam Park, opening Gloucester’s Market Basket in October 2009.
Arthur T. Demoulas has served as CEO since 2008, and with his role hanging in the balance Thursday, hundreds of people — as many as 2,000, according to one estimate — lined the road leading to the hotel and packed the parking lot, holding signs and chanting “Artie T! Artie T!” Signs read “People Before Profits” and “Artie S. = Greed.”
The crowd gave Arthur T. Demoulas a rock star’s reception when he arrived just before 9:30 a.m. driven in a silver Mercury sedan that moved slowly through the sea of supporters mobbing the car and reaching to shake the CEO’s hand.
A convoy of Market Basket trucks, meanwhile, made a continuous loop on Interstate 93 Thursday morning, honking horns each time they passed the hotel, which is on Old River Road, parallel to I-93.
For updates on this story, look to online coverage today at gloucestertimes.com.