Chief merchant out at OfficeMax

NAPERVILLE, Ill. — OfficeMax Friday announced that Ryan Vero, EVP and chief merchandising officer will be leaving the company effective Dec. 2. The company, which did not specify the reason for Vero's departure, said it has already started its search for a replacement. Michael Lewis, EVP and president of retail, will continue to provide oversight to the marketing and merchandising teams.

Vero joined OfficeMax in 1994 and since then has held numerous positions within the company. While he was EVP e-commerce/direct, he was instrumental in the 1995 launch of OfficeMax's award-winning e-commerce site,, according to the company. Vero also served as divisional VP OfficeMax Online. Vero became EVP merchandising and marketing in October 2001. He also has been involved in a variety of merchandising and marketing areas including advertising, promotions and visual planning, the company said. In addition, Vero was responsible for OfficeMax's product buying groups, which included the management of OfficeMax's 18 merchandise categories.

While the timing and brevity of OfficeMax's announcement may cause speculation, the company had some kind parting words for Vero:

"Since joining OfficeMax in 1994, Ryan has made many contributions throughout the company," said Ravi Saligram, president and CEO of OfficeMax.  "We appreciate his dedicated service and hard work.  With Michael Lewis working closely with our teams, we expect it will be a smooth transition."

OfficeMax announced that total sales were $1.8 billion in the third quarter of 2011, a decrease of 2.1% from the third quarter of 2010.  For the third quarter of 2011, OfficeMax reported net income of $21.5 million, or 25 cents per diluted share, compared with $20 million, or 23 cents per diluted share, in the third quarter of 2010.  

OfficeMax's retail segment reported a sales decrease of 4.8% to $891.5 million in the third quarter of 2011 compared with the third quarter of 2010, reflecting a same-store sales decrease of 4.3%. A decline in same-store sales in the U.S. was partially offset by stronger same-store sales in Mexico, the company said. Retail segment income was $28.5 million, or 3.2% of sales, in the third quarter of 2011 compared to $32.4 million, or 3.5% of sales, in the third quarter of 2010.

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