Staples’ web sales decline 2% in Q3

November 19, 2015 01:55 PM

Online sales at Staples Inc. fell 2.0% during its fiscal third quarter, as total sales decreased and the office supplies retailer closed 18 North American stores in the quarter. Staples has shuttered 70 stores this year and approximately 230 stores in North America since the beginning of 2014, the retailer reported in its quarterly earnings release Wednesday.

The Federal Trade Commission is reviewing Staples’ proposed acquisition of Office Depot Inc. for $6.3 billion. The decision will be issued Dec. 8, CEO and chairman Ron Sargent said on an earnings call with analysts. This acquisition, announced in February, would further consolidate the office supplies retail sector as Office Depot acquired OfficeMax in November 2013.

Staples, No. 4 in the Internet Retailer 2015 Top 500 Guide, is trying to boost its e-commerce business as it improved its website and mobile app, Sargent said on the call. Customer conversions were up both on desktop websites and through mobile, and while the retailer did not report specific figures, Sargent said Staples grew  its in-store kiosk and buy online, pick up in store offerings.

“We’ve improved the online experience for our customers. We’ve enhanced our mobile app to accommodate the increasingly mobile workforce. We’ve got rich digital selling tools for our salesforce and we rolled out omnichannel capabilities like [our] printer store and buy online, pickup in store for contract customers,” Sargent said.

Growth online, however, was offset by weak desktop traffic to and lower business acquisition, Sargent said. Sales in sectors including ink and toner, mobility and technology categories, such as tablets and tech accessories, remained weak as well.

Staples stores will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, a change from the past two years when the retailer opened on the holiday. Staples will still offer deals online on Thanksgiving and open at 6 a.m. on Black Friday.

For the third fiscal quarter ended Oct. 31, Staples reports:

  • E-commerce sales declined 2.0% from the same period a year ago. The merchant did not break out a dollar figure.
  • North American stores and online sales were down 7.8% to $2.61 billion from $2.83 billion.
  • North American commercial sales increased 0.7% to $2.173 billion from $2.158 billion.
  • International sales dropped 16.8% to $807 million from $970 million.
  • Net sales decreased 6.2% to $5.59 billion from $5.96 billion.
  • Comparable-store sales declined 2%.
  • Net income fell 8.8% to $198 million from $217 million.

For the first nine months of the year, Staples reports:

  • Net sales decreased 6.2% to $15.79 billion from $16.84 billion in the same period in 2014.
  • Net income fell 25.8% to $293 million from $395 million a year ago. 



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