Arthur T. Demoulas’s return to the helm of Market Basket is a victory for the family-owned grocery chain’s employees, who walked off the job after Arthur T.’s cousins ousted him in June and refused to come back without him. It’s also a victory for a farsighted business model, in which maximizing the immediate returns for owners is a lesser goal than preserving a company’s long-term sustainability.
Yet Arthur T.’s $1.5 billion buyout of the rival Arthur S. Demoulas faction doesn’t mean that everything can go back to exactly the way it was. The deal leaves the company with a loan obligation it previously didn’t have, not to mention a $550 million loan from a private equity firm. Especially under these new pressures, Arthur T. must preserve the values that made Market Basket special. But if he hopes to prevent a repeat of this saga in the future, he must also professionalize the governance of this all too unusual chain.