While we consumers think of Staples as the brick-and-mortar retailer that we go to when we need a printer cartridge, that’s not how the company thinks of itself. After a disappointing quarter of sales while the company is still trying to get over the breakup of its engagement to Office Depot, its leaders told investors that they plan to focus on services, including delivery to offices and to homes.
Staples clearly sees its services, not the sale of merchandise, as the best way forward. Remember that reatail wasn’t the reason why the Staples-Office Depot merger between Staples and Office Depot didn’t go through. While consumers can buy printer paper and toner cartridges at discount stores or online, large corporations can’t, and Staples and Office Depot offer delivery, payment by purchase orders, and the creation of customized online stores for each company.
Staples got rid of its retail business in Europe altogether last year, and plans to pare down its North American stores by about 5% of the total, or 70 stores.
Oddly, the company found that it grew in ways not directly connected to office supplies. “The improvement in fourth quarter comparable sales primarily
reflects growth in facilities supplies, computers, and break room supplies,” the company’s statement observes. Cleaning supplies and computers? Sure, they’re important, but are they enough to build the future of the company?
Staples thinks so, since its Staples Advantage (business orders) is one area where comparable stores sales actually went up. So did business at the chain’s printing services, which helped offset lower sales in ink and toner.
We don’t have a list of the closing locations list, but will post one when we do.