Management: Tempest at the Tea Company

Even at the eight-item counter, the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company's 4,730 stores will be hard pressed to match President Byron Jay's own express checkout. Three weeks ago, only 13 months before reaching A. & P.'s mandatory retirement age of 65, Jay ended a 41-year, up-from-clerk career with the nation's biggest food chain by 1) chucking the $151,000-a-year job he had held since 1964 and 2) packing himself off to deep seclusion.

By last week, as some 500 of the company's 52,000 bewildered stockholders gathered for their annual meeting in Manhattan, A....