Arthur T. Demoulas addressed employees and supporters outside Market Basket headquarters Thursday, the morning after he and his family completed a deal to buy out the shares of the company they did not already own and take complete control of the chain.
The ousted CEO spoke to cheers, lauding employee, customer, and vendor action over the summer. He said the protests that captivated New England, and which were aimed at reinstalling him as Market Basket’s leader, amounted to an effort to protect the company’s way of doing business.
“You have demonstrated to the world that it is a person’s moral obligation and social responsibility to protect the culture which provides an honorable and a dignified place in which to work,’’ Demoulas said.
Arthur T. and his family struck a deal with rival shareholders, including his cousin Arthur S. Demoulas, late Wednesday after weeks of negotiating. Over the past six weeks, employees have significantly stunted the Market Basket’s operations in protest of his firing, and found support from customers and vendors who cut ties with the chain. Employees have long supported Demoulas, in part due to compensation and benefits packages that are considered generous by industry standards.
In his remarks, Arthur T. deflected attention from himself and the family feud at the center of the multi-decade struggle over company control. Instead he reflected on the efforts of workers.
“As I stand before you, I am in awe of what you all accomplished, and the sterling example you have all set for so many people across the region and across the country,’’ he said.
“As you held signs in the hot summer sun, as you stood waving flags in the pouring rain…the public watched in awe and admiration because you empowered others to seek change,’’ he added.
Arthur T. had not spoken publicly since his firing, only releasing occasional statements through a spokesperson as the summer’s ordeal developed.
Until the agreed upon deal is closed, Arthur T. will work in a consultant role, with control of the company’s operations. He and employees across the company plan to get back to work Thursday, and face an immediate challenge in an effort to stabilize the company in the wake of the summer’s events. But Arthur T. said he was eager to do so.
“Let’s take that pride and let’s move forward doing what we love to do—working together and serving our customers,’’ he said.