Market Basket CEOs Face ‘Constant Challenges’

The Boston Globe paints a complex portrait of the CEOs installed to replace Arthur T. Demoulas.
The Boston Globe paints a complex portrait of the CEOs installed to replace Arthur T. Demoulas.
AP

As the Market Basket conflict that has left aisles empty and customers frustrated takes on an increasingly personal tone, the CEOs of the company have become caught in the crossfire.

The Boston Globe paints a complex portrait of the CEOs installed to replace Arthur T. Demoulas—the beloved, former supermarket president whom supporters have idolized over the last three weeks of protests.

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Help wanted: Two chief executives to replace one cult hero at regional grocery chain. Will be scorned by employees loyal to former boss, and may be fired within weeks. Successful candidates will share ridicule and uncertainty.

That might as well have been the ad James Gooch and Felicia Thornton responded to when they applied to become co-CEOs of Market Basket — and now their situation is becoming more precarious.

James Gooch and Felicia Thornton certainly face a daunting task—to get a supermarket chain whose workers are openly revolting back on its feet.

Efforts thus far have failed. Market Basket associates who walked off the job, leaving supermarkets barren and costing the shareholders millions, largely ignored a Monday deadline to get back to work.

Protesters also swelled their ranks to record numbers at a rally Tuesday—the largest to date.

It seems that Gooch and Thornton, who the Globe notes were originally a calming force during the early country club confrontation last month, are taking more drastic action against employees.

They fired eight high profile market basket employees who supported the ousted president without so much as a phone call. The letters of termination were delivered to their homes on a weekend.

Those actions—which were widely regarded as cold-blooded, the Globe says—may have opened the CEOs up to criticism and vitriol from Market Basket associates who staff the chain.

According to The Globe, even Gooch’s mother has gotten “nasty phone calls” from protesters who demonize her son.

The CEOs may be equipped to face the heat however. They have experience tackling companies facing major problems and layoffs. The Globe points out that Gooch, for example, tried to turn around the floundering company RadioShack before stepping down two years ago.

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