By Brian Messenger
---- — ANDOVER — Arthur T. Demoulas remains at the helm of Market Basket.
After a nearly 13-hour meeting at the Wyndham Hotel, the board of directors made no motion to remove him, a move that was sought by his cousin, Arthur S. Demoulas.
“I am pleased with today’s result. I hope to work constructively with the board going forward. It is my desire to continue to look out for the best interests of our customers and employees. Together we have built a fine organization and I am extremely proud of you. Thanks to everybody for their tremendous outpouring of support,” Arthur T. Demoulas said in a statement to the media.
The directors are not expected to meet again until August, according to Harry-Jacques Pierre, a spokesman for Arthur T. Demoulas.
Market Basket’s CEO received superstar treatment from hundreds of loyal employees as he arrived in town yesterday morning. The raucous show of support just may have been what saved his job.
Demoulas’ backers lined Old River Road before the board meeting at the hotel. A majority of the board had been expected to oust him as CEO in favor of his cousin.
For years, the Demoulas family has wrangled over of what has grown into a 71-store grocery chain, which has roots in Lowell but has expanded across Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
Arthur T. Demoulas has served as CEO since 2008. Arthur S. Demoulas and other members on his side of the family allege Arthur T. Demoulas has mismanaged the company and ignored instructions from the board, according to various reports.
The boardroom battle for control of the grocery store chain was expected to come to a head yesterday.
Outside the hotel yesterday morning, a vocal crowd made up mostly of Market Basket employees stood in 90-degree heat to hold signs and chant “Artie T!” as Arthur T. Demoulas arrived in a slow-moving Ford sedan.
At one point the throng nearly swarmed the vehicle as the CEO reached out to shake hands and wave at his supporters. It was a scene Helen Simpson of Salem, N.H., compared to the legendary Woodstock concert.
“It was just powerful,” said Simpson, a 25-year employee at Market Basket.
“That’s what he is to us — a rock star,” added Jim Close, a Merrimack, N.H., resident and 27-year Market Basket veteran.
One supporter yesterday painted the window of an SUV to read “Arthur T = Integrity.” Others in the crowd targeted Arthur S. Demoulas, with signs that read, “People Before Profits,” and “Artie S = Greed.”
Pat Somma of Andover said he wasn’t surprised at all by the size of the crowd. The deli manager at the Salem, N.H., Market Basket questioned why the board would consider a leadership change when the company continues to experience growth.
“I think it’s a bad move,” said Somma. “The company’s running very well right now.”
Brian McCullough of Lawrence said Arthur T. Demoulas “always makes us feel like we work with him, not for him.”
“I’ve never been in a boardroom before, but I see everything going well now,” said McCullough. “Everybody’s happy and they’re making money so I don’t see why they would change.”
Joe Angelari of Methuen said he started working at Market Basket as a teenager 24 years ago before working his way up to the position of store manager in Ashland.
“We want Arthur T. running the company,” said Angelari. “We’ve grown into what we are because of his values. ... Hopefully we’ve shown him how much we care. Now we can just hope they make the right decision.”