Reporter’s Notebook: Market Basket


Market Basket, the venerable 71-store New England grocery chain, is well known for its loyal customers and extended "family" of associates –- and not speaking to the press. However, following the recent management shakeup at the company –- in which one faction of the family who founded the business wrestled control from the other and fired its longtime top leaders –- I was approached by former employees who wanted to tell their side of the story on the record.

A story such as this, in which the prime subject of its allegations –- in this case, the new Market Basket leadership team –- declines comment, is bound to be one-sided. Nevertheless, it provides invaluable insights into how the company was run under former CEO Arthur T. Demoulas, and where its former key staff members now believe the business is headed.

Further, what came through strongly in my interviews with former veteran Market Basket employees Bill Marsden and Sue Dufresne is their abiding loyalty to Arthur T., and their palpable anguish at the current state of affairs, which they believe could lead to the ruination of the company to which they've devoted the bulk of their professional lives. For these reasons, they were evidently driven to defy a decades-old corporate policy that discouraged speaking to the press, to get their story out to the public.

Although Progressive Grocer typically shies away from one-sided stories like this, the compelling ingredients of the Market Basket mixup –- including a history of infighting among family members that dates back decades, an iconic grocery banner beloved by its associates and shoppers, and the uncertainty of a company at the crossroads of how it used to do business and how it will proceed in the future –- influenced our decision to publish it.

It's a complicated tale of the often difficult dynamics of a family business, whose key members' opposing views could lead to an equally complicated and murky fate for customers and associates alike. To wit: at press time, several Market Basket stores in various stages of completion in Massachusetts have been further delayed, with the setbacks in at least two communities attributed to the long-running Demoulas family feud.

Come what may, we'll be watching for the next developments in the Market Basket chronicles.

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