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Keller @ Large: Can Market Basket Survive?

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WBZ-TV's Jon Keller Jon Keller
Jon Keller is WBZ-TV News' Political Analyst, and his "Keller A...
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BOSTON (CBS) – Can Market Basket survive the current employee and customer backlash?

Supermarket industry analyst John Rand says if management can’t get it together fast, the company is in big trouble.

“The store looks right now like we just went through a massive 25-inch snowstorm,” Rand says. “We’re gonna see a significant sales impact within days, a long-term brand damage within a month. It doesn’t take long for people to go away. What’s really hard is to get them back.”

For 20-year employee Jeff Lareau, the damage to store business, apparent in the barren shelves and near-empty aisles at the Hudson Market Basket, is a risk worth taking to get much-admired former boss Arthur T. Demoulas back in charge.

“I’d rather take a stand and do what’s right for what I believe in, and that’s worth more than any job,” Lareau says.

One side is waging public battle; But what about the other side? Crisis-management expert John Carroll of Boston University says if the Market Basket brass finally start making their case and showing interest in compromise, public opinion might turn skeptical toward the protestors.

“The first thing they should do is they should go out and tell their story,” Carroll says. “You go from justice to vengeance and all of a sudden you take the chance the public is gonna have a bad taste in their mouth because of that.”

“Somebody has to back down because right now I don’t see how they settle this,” Rand says.

Late Tuesday, co-CEOs Felicia Thornton and James Gooch issued a statement that defended their firing of eight veteran employees active in the protest and did not address the status of Arthur T. Demoulas, saying in part: “We strongly encourage all associates to return their focus to Market Basket’s customers, their needs and expectations.”

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