Tewksbury, Mass. – Delhaize Group, parent company of Maine-based supermarket chain Hannaford Bros. Co., is reportedly making a bid for part or all of the embattled Market Basket grocery chain. Market Basket operates 71 stores in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine, and has been embroiled in a dispute with employees over management since July.
According to the Boston Globe, Delhaize could at most purchase the 50.5% of Market Basket owned by Arthur S. Demoulas, majority shareholder of Market Basket parent company Demoulas Super Markets, and his relatives. In June 2014, Demoulas removed his cousin, former CEO and current Demoulas Super Markets minority shareholder Arthur T. Demoulas, from his CEO post in a financial dispute, although Arthur T. has retained his shares.
Starting July 18, a large number of Market Basket employees have been staging demonstrations and refusing to show up for work, demanding the return of Arthur T. Demoulas as CEO. Arthur T. Demoulas has since offered to buy the company for an unspecified sum and also offered to run the company while negotiations for a purchase take place. With most warehouse workers and drivers refusing to report for duty, Market Basket stores have almost no products on the shelves.
To date, eight management-level employees have been fired. Senior management has threatened to fire any employees who did not go back to their scheduled shifts as of Aug. 4 and has held public job fairs, but there is no definite news of any more employee firings.
The company also is reportedly considering reducing the hours of or even laying off all part-time employees. Market Basket employs roughly 25,000 workers, of whom more than half are part-time. Management of Demoulas Super Markets released a statement about staffing.
“The CEOs have said repeatedly they would welcome back all associates in an effort to return to full operations for the benefit of Market Basket's customers, associates, vendors and communities,” said the statement. “It is not their wish that anyone be laid off. Toward that end, they have directed store directors to receive deliveries and stock their shelves. Company practice has always been that store directors are responsible for determining appropriate staffing levels in their stores.”
A spokesperson for Hannaford Bros. denied that Delhaize is actively considering a bid.