Less than a week after Office Depot and Officemax consummated their merger, the combined companies have a new chairman and CEO in former Delhaize America CEO Roland Smith.
In conjunction with the appointment of Smith, who also previously served as CEO of Wendy’s, the two CEOs of Office Depot and OfficeMax who were serving as co-CEOs of the combined company both resigned. Neil Austrian served as CEO of Office Depot and Ravi Saligram served as CEO of OfficeMax prior to the merger.
“Over the last several months, the Selection Committee evaluated more than 100 candidates in a rigorous process to find the right leader for this company,” said Nigel Travis, Office Depot’s lead director, co-chair of the CEO selection committee and chairman and CEO of Dunkin’ Brands. “Roland is uniquely qualified for the newly combined Office Depot and OfficeMax. He has decades of experience integrating companies and cultures and an impressive track record in turning around businesses. Additionally, he brings outstanding leadership that will be invaluable as we seek to transform and grow our new company.”
Smith most recently served as CEO and president of Delhaize America, the $18 billion food retailing division of Delhaize Group which includes Food Lion and Hannaford. Prior to that, Smith was president and CEO of The Wendy’s Company, president and CEO of Wendy's/Arby's Group and CEO of Wendy's International. Throughout his tenure at these companies, Smith orchestrated numerous transformative initiatives. Originally at Arby’s, Smith helped to rejuvenate the brand, turn around the culture and integrate the acquisition of its largest franchisee. Later, Smith successfully completed the acquisition and merger of Wendy’s by Arby’s. While transforming the culture, menu and product, Smith also improved operations and accelerated international expansion. Additionally, Smith orchestrated the successful sale of Arby’s, according to a statement by Office Depot.
Smith also led operational turnarounds at American Golf Corporation, the world’s largest owner and operator of golf courses, and AMF, the world’s largest owner and operator of bowling centers. He has held senior management positions at KFC International, Pepsi Cola International, Schering-Plough and Procter & Gamble. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, and served in the U.S. Army for seven years.
“I am honored to accept the position of chairman and CEO of Office Depot,” said Smith. “With the combined resources of Office Depot and OfficeMax, we have the ability to transform the company and create an exciting new organization that exceeds the needs and desires of our customers, provides new opportunities for our global associates, becomes a more appealing partner to our vendors and increases value for our shareholders.”
“I know that numerous cross-company teams have worked diligently over the past eight months to create a clear blueprint for the integration of Office Depot and OfficeMax,” added Smith. “Moving forward, my focus will be on fully integrating the two companies, achieving the planned synergies, creating a compelling vision for the future, and leveraging our infrastructure and assets to drive improved profitability and increased revenue. Additionally, I fully understand that we need to make a headquarters decision quickly so that we can drive our integration efforts.”