National News

May 6, 2014 12:58 PM by Associated Press

Office Depot to Close 400 Stores

BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) - Office Depot is planning to close at least 400 U.S. stores, as its merger with OfficeMax resulted in an overlap of retail locations that can be consolidated.

The office supply retailer had 1,900 stores in the U.S. at the end of the first quarter, so the plans call for closing about 21 percent of them. Office Depot and OfficeMax Inc. completed their $1.2 billion deal last November.

Office Depot said it has not quantified the number of jobs that will be affected by the store closures but that it will look to place its best talent impacted by the store closings into new roles, wherever possible.

Its shares rose more than 8 percent in premarket trading Tuesday.

Chairman and CEO Roland Smith said in a statement that one of the company's goals this year was to improve its store footprint in North America to meet customer demand better and ensure that it's well positioned in the markets it serves.

"The overlapping retail footprint resulting from the merger provides us with a unique opportunity to consolidate and optimize our store portfolio, while maintaining the retail presence necessary to serve our customer," Smith said.

Office Depot said Tuesday that it expects to close 150 U.S. stores this year, mostly in the fourth quarter. It closed 14 stores in the first quarter, a company spokeswoman said.

All of the store closures are anticipated to occur by the end of 2016.

The store closings are expected to result in at least $75 million in annual savings by 2016's end and add to earnings starting next year.

Office Depot, which is based in Boca Raton, Florida, said that it's still trying to determine expected working capital savings and costs related to the store closings.

The company also reported its first-quarter financial results on Tuesday, which include results from OfficeMax. The year-ago results do not include OfficeMax.

For the period ended March 29, Office Depot lost $109 million, or 21 cents per share. In the prior-year period it lost $17 million, or 6 cents per share. Removing merger-related expenses and other items, earnings were 7 cents per share.

Revenue climbed to $4.35 billion from $2.72 billion. Pro forma revenue for the year-ago period was $4.48 billion.

Analysts polled by FactSet predicted earnings of 3 cents per share on revenue of $4.27 billion.

Shares of Office Depot climbed 35 cents, or 8.4 percent, to $4.52 in premarket trading.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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