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Staples to close 225 stores by end of 2015

Framingham, Mass. -- Staples on Thursday said it will close 225 stores by the end of 2015 amid falling fourth-quarter revenue, increased competition, and a shift to online sales. The big-box office-supply category, which was battered by the recession, has come under increased competition from Walmart and other discounters and online retailers such as Amazon. Most recently, Staples’ rivals Office Depot and OfficeMax completed a $1.2 billion merger.

The retailer said the closings, which will impact about 12% of Staples’ 1,500 U.S. outlets, are part of a plan to save $500 million in costs by the end of next year. Additional savings are expected to come from supply chain, labor optimization, non-product related costs, IT hardware and services, marketing, sales force, and customer service.

"A year ago, we announced a plan to fundamentally reinvent our company. With nearly half our sales generated online today, we're meeting the changing needs of business customers and taking aggressive action to reduce costs and improve efficiency," Staples CEO Ron Sargent said.

For the fourth quarter, Staples’ profit fell to $1.5 billion from $1.7 billion.

Total company sales fell 10.6% to $5.9 billion. Same-store sales in North America, excluding sales through Staples.com, fell 7%. Staples.com sales grew 10%.

Revenue at the company's international division fell 13%, hurt by weakness in Europe and Australia.

For the full year 2013, Staples’ North American stores and online achieved sales of $11.1 billion, down 6.1% from last year.

Staples did not disclose the location of the stores to be closed. The company has over 1,500 stores in the United States and more than 2,200 worldwide.

© 2014