Staples speeds up store closures, focuses online

Staples is speeding up plans to close stores in the US and elsewhere, planning to invest more in online and mobile efforts. Staples says the moves are part of a strategy to better serve customers and accelerate growth. 

Mike Blake/Reuters/File
A Staples store is shown in Encinitas, California in this February 2012 file photo. Staples will accelerate a plan to close stores in the US and refocus its efforts online.

Staples is speeding up the closure of about 15 of its U.S. stores and plans to close 45 stores and some delivery businesses in Europe.

The office products company also says it will invest more in its online and mobile efforts and will expand the product assortment that it offers to its business customers.

Staples Inc. said Tuesday that these moves and other actions are part of a strategic plan to better serve customers' needs and accelerate growth.

Staples is trying to adapt to the evolving needs of its customers. Last month the company reported that its second-quarter net income fell as sales of computers, software, and basic office supplies softened. Computer sales have been pressured by the introduction to many offices of the computer tablet and other mobile devices. Traffic is also down at Staples' stores and Europe continues to be a weak spot.

The chain expects the U.S. store closings will result in a charge of about $35 million in the fourth quarter. For fiscal 2012, it anticipates about 30 U.S. store closings. Staples also expects 30 stores will be scaled down and stores being relocated.

In Europe, the store closures are expected to occur before the end of fiscal 2012. The company has also tapped John Wilson to serve as president of Staples Europe. Wilson succeeds Rob Vale, who is retiring.

The retailer says its U.S. retail and online businesses will now be run by Demos Parneros. Joe Doody will continue to lead the North American contract and Quill.com businesses, and will assume leadership of supply chain and customer service operations in North America.

Staples expects its actions to result in charges of $145 million to $195 million by the end of fiscal 2012. It also foresees a third-quarter goodwill impairment charge of $790 million to $850 million within its European retail and catalog businesses.

The company says it is still looking into additional operational and strategic opportunities for its European operations, which includes the potential sale of its European printing systems business. It anticipates taking a third-quarter charge of $15 million to $20 million as it classifies the European printing systems business as discontinued operations.

The chain will also take a charge of $20 million by fiscal 2012's end as it rebrands its Australian business.

The Framingham, Mass., company anticipates annual savings of about $250 million by the end of fiscal 2015.

Staples's stock slipped 5 cents to $12.30 in premarket trading. Its shares hit a 52-week low of $10.57 in late August and peaked for the year at $16.93 in March.

The company has stores in 26 countries in North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.