(Salem News (MA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) July 26--BOSTON -- Market Basket's board of directors announced Friday that it will consider offers to buy the company -- including one from ousted CEO Arthur T. Demoulas.
His offer will be considered "along with any other offers previously received and to be received," the board, which includes the ousted CEO's cousin and rival Arthur S. Demoulas, said in a prepared statement.
Friday night the company said there would be no penalty or discipline "for any associate who joins in what will be a significant effort to return to the unparalleled level of performance and customer service that have been hallmarks of the Market Basket brand." It says there would be no changes to compensation and benefits.
Earlier in the day, the board was critical of "certain current and former associates" for their "negative behavior" and asked workers to restore normal operations at the company's 71 locations, which include stores in Danvers, Salem and Middleton.
"The board acknowledges that it has heard from many stakeholders," the statement indicated. "The negative behavior of certain current and former associates is at variance with the company's culture of putting the needs of the Market Basket customers first.
"It is now clear that it is in the interests of all members of the Market Basket community for normal business operations to resume immediately," the statement added. "Furthermore, the board reaffirmed its election of Co-CEOs Felicia Thornton and James Gooch to manage the company in accordance with the company's bylaws."
The board of directors confirmed that the company has received an offer from Arthur T. Demoulas and the other "B" shareholders to acquire the remaining 50.5 percent of the shares of the company.
"Consistent with its fiduciary obligations, the board will evaluate and seriously consider this proposal, along with any other offers previously received and to be received," the statement read. "Following its evaluation of all of the offers, it will convey its recommendations to the company's shareholders."
Prior to the Boston board meeting, Eleanor Corcoran, who said she is a loyal Market Basket customer, showed up in the elevator lobby of the Prudential Center and tried to hand Arthur S. Demoulas a shopping bag full of petitions calling for Arthur T.'s reinstatement.
She said Arthur S. didn't even make eye contact with her and two managers from the Chelsea store who were with her.
Corcoran, a native of Haverhill who lives in Somerville, said the group did hand a bag to board members William J. Shea and Terrence Carleton, who were appointed to the board by Arthur T. Demoulas.
Since Arthur T.'s ouster, the food chain has been hit with customer boycotts and fierce but orderly protests from employees devoted to the former CEO.
Industry analysts say worker revolts at non-union companies are rare, but what's happening at Market Basket is particularly unusual because the workers are not asking for higher pay or better benefits. They are continuing to demand the reinstatement of beloved former CEO Arthur T. Demoulas, whom workers credit with keeping prices low, treating employees well and guiding the company's success.
While earlier squabbles between Arthur T. and Arthur S. were fought in courtrooms, this dispute has spilled into Market Basket stores and parking lots.
For the past week, warehouse workers have refused to make deliveries to Market Basket's stores, leaving fruit, vegetable, seafood and meat shelves empty. Workers have held huge protest rallies and organized boycott petitions through social media, attracting thousands of supporters.
Customers are defecting to other grocery stores.
In some cases, customers have taped receipts from competitors to Market Basket windows to spotlight the difference in store prices.
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