Staples is the world's largest office products company, serving consumers and businesses in 25 countries worldwide. It was the first office supplies superstore when it was founded in 1986, and began to establish a global presence in the 1990s, initially through local partnerships, and later with acquisitions including Neat Ideas in the UK and Corporate Express in the Netherlands and other countries. In recent years, though, traditional office supplies retailers have been hit hard by competition from Walmart and Amazon. In 2015, in an attempt to bolster its position, Staples agreed to acquire its main rival Office Depot for $6.3bn. However, that merger was challenged by the FTC. The two companies went to court to argue their case but without success. The plan was abandoned in May 2016, forcing Staples to seek a new strategy. It began to offload its international network later that year, with deals to sell its European and Australasian stores in early 2017. Shortly afterwards it was acquired by private equity investor Sycamore Partners for $6.9bn. As of early 2017, Staples had around 1,560 stores in North America as well as a wide-reaching direct delivery service. A few international stores continue to operate in Latin America, and it has a delivery service in China. Revenues for the year to Jan 2017 were $18.2bn, and the group reported a $1.5bn net loss as a result of impairment charges against discontinued operations. Own brand products under the Staples and Quill banners accounted for more than a quarter of sales during the year. Shira Goodman succeeded Ron Sargent as group CEO in 2016, but was herself replaced in 2018 by former Coke executive Sandy Douglas. The business was founded by Tom Stemberg and Leo Kahn, rival supermarket operators who joined forces with the aim of adopting the warehouse-style deep discount format already used by Toys R Us, and then being implemented in other retail sectors by the likes of Walmart and Home Depot. They considered several different market sectors before settling on office supplies. Adbrands no longer profiles this company but subscribers may access account assignments and contact information. The searchable account assignments database is available to full subscribers to Adbrands.net premium services. Click here to access Adbrands account assignments (subscribers only); or see here for information on how to subscribe.
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Capsule checked 4th April 2017
Adbrands Weekly Update 1st Feb 2018: Veteran Coca-Cola executive Sandy Douglas was named as the new CEO of struggling office products retailer Staples. He takes over from Shira Goodman. Douglas spent almost three decades at Coke, but left the group last year after being passed over for the top job.
Adbrands Weekly Update 29th Jun 2017: Office products retailer Staples is to go private in a buyout by investment firm firm Sycamore Partners for around $6.9bn. Staples and rival Office Depot have been under immense pressure in recent years from Amazon on one side, and Walmart and Target on the other. A recent attempt by the two companies to merge with one another was blocked by competition regulators, forcing Staples to sell off most of its international division to boost its declining performance.
Adbrands Weekly Update 6th Apr 2017: Office products retailer Staples said it is in talks with one or more possible private equity buyers. The global #1 in its sector, it has been struggling to compete with general retailers such as Walmart and Amazon. An attempt to bolster its position through a merger with smaller rival Office Depot, also ailing, was blocked by regulators. Earlier this year, in order to focus its attention on the North American market, Staples agreed separate deals to divest its operations in Europe and Australasia.
Adbrands Weekly Update 12th May 2016: Staples and Office Depot abandoned their planned merger after a US court upheld objections by the Federal Trade Commission that it would impair competition. An earlier attempt to combine was blocked by the FTC in 1997. However, both companies claim that the expansion of Amazon into office supplies has created a dramatic new challenge to their business since then. Regulators were unwilling to accept that argument.
Adbrands Weekly Update 10th Dec 2015: The Federal Trade Commission has issued a challenge to the proposed acquisition of Office Depot by rival Staples, arguing that consolidation of the two biggest bricks and mortar suppliers of office products would significantly reduce competition and drive up prices. Yet both companies argue their most damaging competitors are not each other but online rival Amazon. Staples vowed to contest the decision, arguing it is "based on a flawed analysis and misunderstanding of the intense competitive landscape".
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