FINANCE

Office Depot, OfficeMax complete merger

BY Staff Writer

New York — Office Depot and OfficeMax announced the completion of their merger late Tuesday and from the looks of third quarter results released the same day the deal should prove beneficial to both companies.

Office Depot said its third quarter same store sales declined 2%, while OfficeMax said its comps dropped 2.8% in the U.S. and 2.2% in Mexico.

The combined company will use the name Office Depot, Inc. and will trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol ODP.

The new Office Depot, which would have had combined revenue for the 12 months ended Sept. 28, of approximately $17 billion, now employs about 66,000 people worldwide. The company serves consumers and businesses in 59 countries with more than 2,200 retail stores, e-commerce sites, and a dedicated business-to-business sales. The company’s portfolio of brands includes Office Depot, OfficeMax, OfficeMax Grand & Toy, Viking, Ativa, TUL, Foray and DiVOGA.

Customers can interact with each brand as they always have, including shopping at Office Depot and OfficeMax stores and online at www.officedepot.com and www.officemax.com. Each company will maintain its respective loyalty programs and expects to announce a combined loyalty program sometime in 2014.

According to the CEO selection committee, the uncertainty surrounding the timing and any potential conditions of the Federal Trade Commission approval made it challenging for the search to be finalized in time to coincide with the closing of the merger. The committee said it is hopeful of completing the process in the near future, now that unconditional FTC clearance has been obtained.

In the interim, as stated in the merger agreement, Neil Austrian, chairman and CEO of Office Depot, and Ravi Saligram, president and CEO of OfficeMax, will serve together as co-CEOs, executing the integration plans they and their teams have built to combine the two businesses.

The company will continue to operate in both Boca Raton, Fla., and Naperville, Ill., until the new CEO is on board and a decision on a headquarters location is finalized.

Office Depot also announced the members of its new board of directors. Aside from Saligram and Austrian, the 12-person board includes five independent directors from each of the Office Depot and OfficeMax boards. Additional directors are Warren Bryant, Rakesh Gangwal, Cynthia Jamison, Jim Marino, Michael Massey, Francesca Ruiz de Luzuriaga, Jeff Smith, David Szymanski, Nigel Travis and Joseph Vassalluzzo. Travis and Gangwal will serve as co-chairmen/co-lead directors.

Departing the Office Depot board are Kathleen Mason, who joined in 2006; Justin Bateman and Raymond Svider, who were appointed in 2009; Tom Colligan, who served since 2010; and Eugene Fife, who was elected in 2012.

“Each of these board members was instrumental in guiding the company through a period of difficult economic conditions as well as executing two of the company’s largest value creation opportunities — the sale of our stake in the Mexican joint venture and our historic merger with OfficeMax. On behalf of the company, I thank each of them for their leadership and wish them much success in their future endeavors,” said Austrian.

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OPERATIONS

Holiday shoppers use native apps

BY Dan Berthiaume

Philadelphia – Native apps, or mobile apps developed in the native operating language of a hardware platform, figure prominently in the plans of many holiday shoppers. In a survey of 500 consumers conducted by Artisan Mobile, 80% of respondents strongly agreed or agreed that they are purchasing and browsing products on native apps more than ever before, and 77% intend to make purchases through a mobile and/or tablet app this holiday season.

Seventy-seven percent of respondents expect to make purchases through a mobile and/or tablet app this holiday season, while 88% plan to browse/research products using a mobile or tablet app. Sixty-six percent browsed or made purchases on a mobile or tablet app last holiday season, so there is a significant increase expected this year.

Respondents were asked how much of their holiday shopping this year will include browsing and purchasing on a mobile or tablet app:

  • 27% plan to do between 20-39% of their holiday shopping via an app;
  • 24% plan to do between 40-59% of their holiday shopping via an app; and
  • 20% plan to do between 60-79% of their holiday shopping via an app.

Fifty-nine percent of respondents agree and 25% strongly agree that mobile or tablet apps are a critical way for them to get what they want quickly and easily. Further, 35% of survey participants said that they frequently or always make purchases by other means after browsing products on a mobile or tablet app, while half said they occasionally do, and only 13% said rarely.

Respondents were asked where they make a purchase after they browse a product on a brand’s mobile app but do not make the purchase through the mobile app:

  • 68% use their computer to make the purchase;
  • 55% go to the store to make the purchase; and
  • 35% use their tablet to make the purchase.
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News

Michaels rolls out interactive service ahead of holiday

BY CSA STAFF

Michaels is offering a free, interactive “Just Add Wishes” DIY site to help consumers with holiday needs. From Nov. 11 through Dec. 24, kids can interact with a live elf through streaming video.

After hours, kids can play games and build wish lists that parents can share on Facebook. On Christmas Eve, the site becomes a Santa Tracker, including a Santa locator, behind-the-scenes information from the North Pole control tower and the Santa Cam, where kids get to see Santa at work putting presents under trees and filling stockings.

Michaels stores will host "Don’t Just Pin It, Make It Your Own" Pinterest parties at all stores on Sunday, Nov. 10, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Customers can browse Michaels’ inspired-by-Pinterest displays for project inspiration, then meet and craft with a Michaels creative expert who can help them make their own versions. Select stores around the U.S. also will host noted craft bloggers and industry experts to help customers with their projects

"We want to make it easy to create holiday magic and beautiful memories," said Michaels CMO Paula Puleo. "Michaels’ Holiday Helpline solves crafting emergencies, and Just Add Wishes offers a new way to entertain and delight kids with the wonder of the season."

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