Family Feud Delays Opening of Revere’s Market Basket Store

The aisles are shiny with wax, the shelves are ready for canned goods, and the cash registers are all set to be turned on, but the doors of the newly completed and long-anticipated Market Basket in the Northgate Mall aren’t likely to open anytime soon.

Market Basket attorneys sent a letter this week to Mayor Dan Rizzo and the City Council informing them that the ongoing internal strife within the company’s leadership and Board of Directors has caused them to delay the opening of the new Revere store. The letter apparently suggested that the opening – which was slated for mid-September – would come in early 2014 after the holidays.

A source close to the company told the Journal that all real estate decisions have been taken over by the Board. That source said this and all projects currently under construction are in jeopardy given the way the Board has handled matters so far.

All of that will come to a head this Thursday at a non-public meeting of the Board and the company’s dueling leadership in Andover.

The situation has particularly frustrated potential shoppers and City leaders who were looking forward to the recently completed store. Inside, everything seems to be ready for operation.

Cash registers are in place.

The deli counter is finished.

The shelves are standing and the aisles are marked with numbers and directories.

On the City side, all of the electrical, building and plumbing inspections are nearly completed – with an occupancy permit likely only days away from being granted.

However, there are no workers inside, no product on the shelves and no inventory in the storeroom.

“Obviously we’re disappointed, but we recognize that the issues surrounding the delay in Market Basket opening are clearly beyond our control,” said Mayor Rizzo on Tuesday. “I’m confident they will resolve their internal issues, and when they do, Market Basket will become a great addition to our commercial tax base and a great alternative for our residents to do their weekly grocery shopping.”

Ward 6 Councillor Charlie Patch, who represents the area, said the delay was a big disappointment for his constituents. He said the store is so anticipated he gets more calls about the Market Basket opening at Northgate than he does about the casino proposal at Suffolk Downs.

“I just hope they come to their senses and settle this because I have gotten more calls on this than I’ve gotten about anything else in the past six years,” he said. “People are so happy it’s opening. Every day people call and want to know when it’s opening. They heard July and then August and now September. Now that they’re ready to go, the store isn’t opening. I only hope they can settle the problems, smarten up and do what’s right for the people of Revere.”

Another store under construction in Waltham has also been delayed, and it had an expected opening of next spring.

The let-down for Revere food shoppers comes via a very public battle between rivaling factions of the Demoulas family and the company’s Board of Directors – a fight that has gone on for many years, but resurfaced publicly earlier this summer.

It is a fight that features the two ‘King Arthurs’ of the company.

Current CEO Arthur T. Demoulas has taken an approach to running the company that his father, ‘Mike’ Demoulas, took, which entails emphasizing lower prices, generous employee profit sharing programs, and limiting debt/expansion to maintain some of the highest profit margins in the supermarket industry.

His approach has been criticized and attacked by his cousin, Arthur S. Demoulas – whose father was also a co-founder of the company.

Arthur S. has accused his cousin, and the company CEO, of making improper business deals with relatives and of being too conservative in the company’s expansion. There has also been discussion surrounding employee profit sharing versus dividends to Board members.

Employees vehemently support Arthur T. and are very worried about the profit sharing plan that doled out some $43 million last year – a key element in the company’s ability to retain employees. A petition from employees and shoppers has gathered thousands of signatures this summer, with a recent online push for more signatures in support of Arthur T.

The company has always been very close to the vest in its operations and it’s sharing of public information – not even having a website and hesitant to give out e-mail addresses or phone numbers of company officials. However, late last week the Tewksbury-based company CEO, Arthur T., engaged in an interview with the Lowell Sun and stated that the company would forever change if he were removed.

“Not any of them know the culture of this business here,” he told the Sun, and called the Thursday vote “a predetermined assault.”

“I’m concerned for the organization and its people,” he told the Sun. “If they remove me, what kind of message is that to the company?”

On the other hand, those supporting Arthur S. have told the Sun – for the same article – that Board members leaning their way have notable business experience. Their expertise, it is believed, could help re-direct the company.

The Board is made up of seven members and it is believed that Arthur S. has the required number of votes to remove his cousin, Arthur T. However, that has been said before, and the saga will likely drag on longer than any care to believe.

Seth Daniel:

View Comments

  • I feel more convinced and relieved now, as to how Market Basket came to be approved to move into Revere: given this article's content, it seems they will eventually fit right in with our city's long tradition of delaying progress due to pretty fighting and years-long, unresolved feuds. Gotta love it. I just think there's more to this, it doesn't seem to make sense that the Board overall would postpone potential new profits by shooting itself in the foot to delay the new store's opening, due to these knuckleheads' in-fighting. Classic.

  • Arthur could care less what you post. I was at the Chelsea market yesterday and the prices are way up, produce, MEAT (lousy), and the deli has only a cheap company and high prices. It's a bait and switch so that family can get Richer. to bad Stop and shop has lazy employees and a better bakery, otherwise now I'll stick with the later and have a parking space

  • I'm going to start shopping at the Super Wal-Mart. I'm tired of hearing about all the greed that this family has. The Hel! with them!

  • This is nothing new. These people have been fighting for more than one generation. The real hit will come when this grocery chain becomes a near monopoly in the region and consumers loose their options. I guess one can never have too much money or power for that matter. Get ready.

  • Its time to grow up and knock it off ! People need jobs and the community needs a affordable quality grocery store. They need to stop being so selfish and move on.They are all making enough money !

  • "redirect the company" yeah, that always works out in the interest of the consumer and the employees.

  • I hope everything may be resolved. Hopefully you all may open up the place soon. My God be with all and may everything work out to help everyone.

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