Market Basket's newly reinstated CEO Arthur T. Demoulas told workers at a Chelsea, Massachusetts, supermarket that he is "forever grateful" Monday, days after he returned to helm the grocery chain following months of worker protests and boycotts triggered by his June ouster.
The man better known to supporters as Artie T. gave workers in Chelsea a lift as they restocked the store. He said the priority now, days after his $1.5 billion deal to buy the company, is to restore stores to customers' expectations, after months hampered by walkouts and empty shelves.
Demoulas reiterated his gratitude to the workers whose pressure helped return him to the helm, and said he is able to connect with his staff of 25,000 through hands-on experience and working together.
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"We try to be good to one another and help each other out," Demoulas told workers. "We certainly saw that in the past six or seven weeks.
"I'll be forever grateful," he added.
Demoulas said his first order of business would be to say "thank you, millions of times over."
The turmoil that has roiled Market Basket all summer culminated late last week in Demoulas' deal to buy a majority stake in the company and in his return as CEO, to roars of support from the workers whose intense pressure, protests and walkouts had helped ensure it.
"I love you all," the told them Friday, just after the board controlled by a rival cousin accepted his $1.5 billion bid for a majority stake Thursday night.
Arthur T. had been ousted as CEO back in June by allies of his rival cousin Arthur S. Demoulas, sparking the two-month dispute, in which employee protests and customer boycotts left many stores and shelves empty.
When news broke that he had regained control of the company, hundreds of supporters gathered Friday at company headquarters in Tewksbury, where he spoke to them.
"I've always believed that we are born into this world at a certain time and a certain place to be with certain people for a reason and a purpose," he told the crowd there. "Everyone has a destiny, and because of you, I stand here with a renewed vigor and a sense of purpose."
The restoration of some Market Basket stores could take several weeks, Arthur T. told reporters Friday, but employees have been working around the clock since his reinstatement to restock empty shelves and reestablish ties with vendors.
Customers were found last week ready to shop once again.
“People are bringing in champagne bottles. Customers are bringing in balloons and donuts and food. It’s great. It's a great feeling,” Tewksbury store manager Mike Riley said.
"It's just a good feeling," said customer Cindy Stamp, whose son works in a Market Basket warehouse. "It's about food, but it's really not. It's about what he does for all our children and people that need jobs. I mean, that to me is the biggest. My son makes a living. Do you believe that? A living off of working in a warehouse. Who can say that?"