Jim Gooch... former CEO of RadioShackSun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.
Jim Gooch ... former CEO of RadioShack

Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

The two new leaders of Market Basket bring with them experience from larger grocery chains and a range of retailers, as well as a few chains that have struggled in recent years.

When Market Basket's board of directors appointed Jim Gooch and Felicia Thornton to share the chief executive officer position after firing Arthur T. Demoulas last Monday, they gained two people with experience leading corporations larger than the Tewksbury-based grocery chain.

Both Gooch and Thornton had been acting as consultants to Market Basket before their appointment.

Gooch, who will also take the title of chief administrative officer, was recently CEO of RadioShack, where he had a bumpy tenure. The Texas-based chain has faced dropping sales and has closed stores in recent years.

Felicia Thornton... recent CEO of Knowledge Universe U.S. operationsSun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.
Felicia Thornton ... recent CEO of Knowledge Universe U.S. operations

Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

Gooch's time with RadioShack went so poorly that a Forbes columnist called his resignation in 2012 the chain's "biggest opportunity in a long time." The website Wealth Wire named him one of its five worst CEOs of 2012. His resignation after slightly over one year as CEO followed an unexpected $21 million quarterly loss, according to reports, compared to a $25 million profit a year prior.

Gooch also held various financial leadership positions for two other longtime struggling retailers, Kmart and Sears. He currently chairs the Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores audit committee. He has a master's in business administration from Northwestern University.

Thornton was recently CEO of U.S.


Advertisement

operations for Knowledge Universe, a company that operates more than 2,000 preschools including KinderCare, and primary- and secondary- education services like the online Keystone National High School, and provides education technology for K-12 school districts.

The privately held Knowledge Universe is based in Singapore, with American operations based out of Portland, Ore.

Thornton resigned from Knowledge Universe in June 2011 for personal reasons, according to reports.

She previously was group vice president for Cincinnati-based Kroger, the country's largest grocery chain by revenue, with $92 billion in sales last year, according to the National Retail Federation. Kroger has more than 3,500 locations, compared to Market Basket's 71.

Thornton also was chief financial officer of the grocery chain Albertsons, which is based in Idaho and has more than 600 stores from Florida to the West Coast. She earned her master's in business administration from the University of Southern California.

Neither Gooch nor Thornton were made available for comment last week by Market Basket or a public-relations firm representing the company's board of directors. Requests for comment from directors through the public-relations firm were also not returned.

Gooch and Thornton may have a more difficult job ahead without many of the longtime executives that have been running the company.

Demoulas was CEO since 2008 and an employee for 41 years. William Marsden, the director of operations, had 48 years with the company, and Joseph Rockwell, a vice president, was with Market Basket for 55 years. Those two were fired, as well.

Those moves led to at least seven other top executives quitting, with a combined 277 years with the company.

Executive Vice President Jim Miamis, 86, had been with Market Basket for more than 70 years, going back to his time as a boy working on the Demoulas family's Dracut farm where they raised lamb for the market.

Others who left: Ron Carignan, the deli director with 51 years of experience; Joanne Marsden, a longtime assistant to Demoulas with 45 years; assistant director of operations Dave McLean, with 38 years; Jay Rainville, the director of advertising and government affairs, with 30 years; Don Mulligan, the vice president, chief financial officer, and treasurer, with 25 years; and Susan Dufresne, an assistant with 18 years.

In another break from a longtime relationship, a Lowell firm the company has used for decades for real estate, Goldman & Curtis, was let go last week. The firm had worked with Market Basket in some capacity for more than 50 years, Greg Curtis said.

"We always had a great working relationship," he said. "It's sad that it had to go this route."

The relationship was also personal for Curtis. His grandfather grew up in the same Greek village as the Demoulas family, and he's known the Demoulas family his whole life, he said. "It's kind of like a family breaking apart," he said of the law firm connection to the grocery chain coming to an end.

Gooch and Thornton may have won some favor with Market Basket employees when on Thursday they reversed an earlier decision by the board of directors to change management at the Indian Ridge Country Club in Andover, which parent company Demoulas Super Markets owns.

The executives apologized to club General Manager Cheri Nolan and committed themselves to the existing club management, the board of directors said in a statement.

Follow Grant Welker on Twitter and Tout @SunGrantWelker.