OPERATIONS

Office Depot to shutter Canadian OfficeMax Grand & Toy stores

BY Dan Berthiaume

Toronto – OfficeMax Grand & Toy, an affiliate of Office Depot, Inc., will close all of its 19 Canadian retail stores. OfficeMax Grand & Toy will continue to service its business customers via the company’s e-commerce website, customer service centers and direct sales representatives.

The 19 retail outlets, located in Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia and Manitoba, will begin closing in the next few months. Approximately 160 employees, both full time and part time, will be impacted by the store closures. The retailer said only 3% of its sales come from in-store walk-ins.

“We are concentrating our efforts on ways to better serve our customers in response to their changing business needs,” said Simon Finch, general manager, OfficeMax Grand & Toy. “Our customers overwhelmingly prefer an online experience because it offers more products, a constantly growing selection, and convenient door-to-door delivery.”

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OPERATIONS

Report: Amazon pilots in-house delivery service

BY Dan Berthiaume

Seattle – Amazon.com is reportedly piloting an in-house delivery service that would use trucks driven by Amazon-hired contractors to deliver packages from area distribution centers to customer homes. According to the Wall Street Journal, Amazon.com is testing the service in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York.

The service could potentially reduce shipping times and costs and also enable same-day shipping. It is also seen as a direct competitive move against UPS, as well as Wal-Mart, EBay and Google.

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FINANCE

SEC charges six with insider trading in EBay-GSI merger

BY Dan Berthiaume

Washington, D.C. – The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged a former executive with insider trading in advance of EBay’s acquisition of the e-commerce company GSI Commerce where he worked, by tipping friends and relatives with confidential information about the pending deal so they could attain more than $300,000 in illegal profits.

The SEC alleges that Christopher Saridakis provided two family members and two friends with nonpublic information about the pending acquisition and encouraging them to trade on it. To settle the SEC’s charges, Saridakis agreed to an officer-and-director bar and must pay $664,822, which includes a penalty equal to twice the amount of his tippees’ profits. In a parallel action, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania today announced criminal charges against Saridakis, who lives in Delaware.

The five traders and the individual who entered into a non-prosecution agreement will pay a combined total of more than $490,000 in their settlements, which range from disgorgement-only or reduced penalties for cooperators to penalties of two or three times the trading profits for other traders. The SEC’s investigation is continuing into trading by other individuals.

“Although Saridakis’ tips spun a web of illegal trading, some of the downstream tippees substantially assisted in our investigation while others hindered it,” said Andrew J. Ceresney, director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “The reduction in penalties for those tippees who assisted us, together with the non-prosecution agreement for one of the traders, demonstrate the benefits of cooperating with our investigations. The increased penalties for others highlight the risks of impeding our work.”

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