As we say good riddance to 2013 and look forward to a much better 2014 we want to reflect back on the past 6 months.
It all began on July 11, when we were informed that ASD had gained control of the BOD and had set an agenda to fire ATD, slow growth, take on debt and increase profits through price increases while increasing the wealth of the shareholders by stripping cash reserves. All of this at the expense of the stakeholders whose hard work, dedication and consumer loyalty have made these shareholders very rich people. We had 7 days to mobilize and save ATD’s job. In those few days the associates, customers and other stakeholders launched an online petition, launched a Face Book page and volunteers manned every store gathering signatures on petitions started by a loyal customer from Lowell. In those 7 days the petitions both on line and at the stores gathered over 200,000 signatures and the Face Book page gained 14,500 likes and hundreds of posts and comments. Over 3,000 people gathered at the Wyndham hotel in Andover in oppressive heat to show support for ATD including many of the benefactors of the charitable arm of Market Basket, the Demoulas Foundation. Also present was the media including print, radio and television. When the meeting finally ended late at night there were still hundreds of people waiting to hear the good news that the BOD had spared ATD from being fired. ATD stopped his car and walked among the hundreds thanking us and promising to never leave us. The people won a victory that day but the fight was far from over.
In the six months since that day we have continued to be vocal, the Face Book page has remained active with now over 17,000 likes and in November we launched www.wearemarketbasket.com as a mirror to the Face Book for those many associates that don’t have a FB account. The BOD has also continued along with their agenda as well, stripping $300 million from cash reserves, halting construction on Waltham and Plymouth and allowing Revere to sit finished but empty and closed. They have wasted hundreds of thousands on the executive search firm Spencer Stuart, the PR firm KEKST and lawyers and consultants. They have taken much of the day to day decision making away from ATD and bogged down what used to be nimble decision making in useless committees that make decisions too late in most cases and not in the best interest of the Company. Their decision making has been weighted far too heavy on the shareholders and way too light for the stakeholders, essentially shooting the goose that lays the golden eggs. At the beginning of November the BOD launched an informational website that is loaded with lies, half truths and misinformation, they have been called on the carpet by ATD about this site which has become more of a bully pulpit then informational. They have brought this fight into the public where anyone with internet access can view the BOD criticizing Company management, unheard of even in the Wall St world where the BOD resides. The BOD allowed associate bonuses and profit sharing but not the amounts that were recommended by management. It is important to note that the BOD hired KEKST, launched their website and sent associates two letters all in a vain attempt to improve their image to the 25,000 associates. We and most every associate has been able to see through the Boards attempts to quiet the masses and we won’t quiet down.
We have pleaded with the BOD, tried to reason with the BOD and asked them to get to know our Company and our people and have been snubbed at every attempt. In fact the BOD has underestimated us many times, you would think they would learn from their mistakes. Their attempts to quiet us, to assure us, to lure us into a false sense of security, to make us believe them have all fallen short. If we have learned anything from this BOD it is that we have become more unified and have no confidence that this Board will do the right things. We don’t believe them, we do not trust them and we sure as hell won’t take direction from them.
Tomorrow we will post our resolutions for 2014…stay tuned we have a lot coming up including many, many guest posts waiting to be posted. Thank you to all who have posted and had a voice in this fight, every voice is important.