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November 25, 2014

New Englanders, and Political Figures, Relieved as Market Basket Standoff Ends

New Englanders, and Political Figures, Relieved as Market Basket Standoff Ends

Market Basket employees wave to cars in Londonderry as they call for customers to boycott the embattled New England grocery store chain on Aug. 17. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

LONDONDERRY, N.H. — Across a broad swath of New England, there’s cause for celebration this Thursday — about the local supermarket.

Driving around New Hampshire last week, the scene was unavoidable: Protesters waving signs outside of local Market Basket stores, with cars honking as they drove by. Inside the stores, bare shelves abound, especially with the perishable goods, little fresh dairy or produce to speak of, an empty butcher case. Most importantly, there were hardly any customers. The public had backed the employees with an old-fashioned boycott.

Politicians across the spectrum had called for resolution, and thus it came as no surprise when the statements started to appear lauding the announcement late Wednesday that an agreement had been reached to bring back the popular previous management, including from Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.

“Market Basket stores are an important part of our communities and their return to normal operations is a win for their workers and people across New Hampshire,” Shaheen said. “I was pleased to hear of the agreement and look forward to their workers being back on the job.”

Shaheen is no doubt not alone. Politicians in both parties told HOH of their concerns about the disagreement, generally backing the employees and customers against the new management, with some having said they had honked their own horns and avoided the stores.

Employees and customers demanded the return of management ousted in a leadership shakeup when Arthur S. Demoulas gained control from his cousin Arthur T. Demoulas. The extent to which the public rallied behind Arthur T. proved staggering: Sales dropped upwards of 90-percent at large store outside Manchester. The windows of that store were plastered with receipts from regional competitors such as Shaw’s and Hannaford, as well as Walmart.

“Effective immediately, Arthur T. Demoulas is returning to Market Basket with day-to-day operational authority of the company. He and his management team will return to Market Basket during the interim period while the transaction to purchase the Company is completed,” the company said in a statement. “The current Co-CEO’s will remain in place pending the closing, which is expected to occur in the next several months.”

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