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Just months after turmoil, Market Basket pays bonuses


TEWKSBURY — In another sign of a return to normalcy at Market Basket, the company paid out bonuses to employees this week that match or exceed what the chain has awarded in past years.

The Christmas and customer-service bonus checks are the first to be handed out since Arthur T. Demoulas returned to running the company in late August.

“If we do a good job on our customers and they reward us by shopping with us, we share in the benefit we receive,” said Dave McLean, Market Basket’s assistant director of operations. Tuesday, when the bonus checks were handed out, “was a great day for the Market Basket associates,” he added.

McLean declined to say how much the company gave out on bonuses but said it was the same, if not more, than in past years. In 2013, Christmas bonuses totaled $44 million, and bonuses for the year hit $70 million, the board of directors announced a year ago.

The benefit, like Market Basket’s profit-sharing plan, is one started decades ago by Arthur T.’s father, Telemachus “Mike” Demoulas, McLean said, and has endured after an ownership battle that appeared to put such extras in doubt.

“These bonuses show why the employees went to bat for Artie T.,” said Jon Springer, an editor with Supermarket News who followed the Market Basket story closely. “I’ve been told the new stores are doing well and that the other stores regained most of their lost sales rather quickly. Competitors have described their sales gains as a result of the struggle as ‘temporary.'”

Market Basket quickly regained its old form in the three-plus months after Demoulas returned to running the company after a sale agreement was reached with the competing side of the Demoulas family.

Its Revere store, which had been delayed for months while the two sides of the owning family battled over control of the company, opened in October as the 72nd Market Basket, the first new store after the company appeared to be at the brink of insolvency. Other new locations in Littleton and Waltham have also opened, and a location in Attleboro — also delayed for months as a result of the family fight — is expected to open early next year.

How much employees will receive in their annual profit-sharing statements won’t be determined until March. Those payments equal 15 percent of an employee’s pay, and is paid out upon retirement.

A 4-percent discount the company has given on nearly all purchases is set to expire Dec. 27. McLean said executives have not been in discussions on extending the discount but there has been talk about what other programs the company might do.

A sale of the company to Demoulas has yet to close. The two sides of the Demoulas family agreed to a sale in late August, which also returned Demoulas and his management team to run the company after a six-week employee walkout and customer boycott.

In the meantime, at least two full-scale documentaries and a documentary short are in the works about the Market Basket saga that peaked this summer with the employee and customer uprising.

One of the documentaries, “Food Fight,” is being co-produced by Jay Childs and Melissa Paly of New Hampshire. The other, “Market Basket Saga,” is being created by New York-based NBTV Studios.

Blue Chalk, another New York studio, is making a documentary short on Market Basket as part of a family-business series for The New York Times.

Follow Grant Welker on Twitter and Tout @SunGrantWelker.

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