Market Basket Turmoil Hits Country Club

The board of directors for Demoulas Supermarkets, which runs Market Basket, attempted to replace the management at a company-owned country club in Andover Thursday, before reversing course later in the day.

Existing management at Indian Ridge Country Club has been described as loyal to the company’s former CEO, Arthur T. Demoulas. Demoulas was ousted by the company’s board of directors on Monday, invoking the fury of associates across the company.

Demoulas had long feuded with his cousin, Arthur S. Demoulas, over the direction of the company (and much more). Arthur S. gained control of the company’s board last year and spent the better part of the past 12 months trying to fire Arthur T. over the objections of customers and employees. Hundreds of Market Basket employees rallied Tuesday in support of Arthur T., voicing their displeasure with the board’s actions, while several senior leaders resigned.

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According to The Eagle-Tribune, a member of the company’s board loyal to Arthur S. showed up at the country club early yesterday morning to dismiss the country club’s management and replace it with a Newton-based golf management company. The director brought a police detail, and a locksmith was also brought on to change the locks while country club members looked on, The Eagle-Tribune reports.

The issue was dropped in the afternoon. The board credited new co-CEOs Felicia Thornton and James Gooch for stepping in and opting to keep existing management in place. From the Eagle-Tribune:

"The Board was executing on a plan to transition the management of the IRCC that was established prior to the election of Felicia and Jim as co-CEOs," according to the statement. "They were not part of this plan and intervened and reinstated Cheri Nolan and her team. The board apologizes to Cheri Nolan and all associates. Future real estate, business and operational matters will be handled by Felicia and Jim."

The Lowell Sun reported earlier this month, before Arthur T. was fired, that the board of directors was looking to make management changes at the club. That led to a separate rally of Market Basket and Indian Ridge employees.

On the Save Market Basket Facebook page, which serves as an organizing area for Arthur T. Demoulas supporters, some employees floated the idea that Thursday’s ordeal was orchestrated by the board in order to reflect well on the new CEOs.

However, the administrators of that page don’t endorse that theory. They wrote Thursday night:

No, we are pretty darn sure this wasn't staged and even if it was the end result is egg all over the faces of the new CEOs and complete loss of our confidence and trust (the very things they are trying so hard to obtain). This is simply a d[y]sfunctional [Board of Directors] not communicating with the very people it hired to replace [Arthur T. Demoulas].

The country club sits on property owned by Demoulas Supermarkets. It was managed by a separate company controlled by Arthur T. Demoulas until this year, when he shifted the country club’s workers into Market Basket employees, as the board signaled willingness to find another company to run the property.

Market Basket employees have expressed concern since Arthur T. Demoulas’s firing that the board will cut wages and cut back on the company’s popular profit-sharing and bonus systems.

Read the full Eagle-Tribune report here.