Staples To Close 225 Stores Over Next 20 Months

There’s bad news for employees of another major national retailer after Staples announced this morning that it plans to shutter 225 of its stores before the end of 2015 as it tries to cut costs and deal with sagging sales.

The office supply company released its quarterly and annual earnings report this morning and the picture isn’t terribly rosy for Staples.

In North America, its retail and online sales were $11.1 billion in 2013, down more than $700 million from its sales total for 2012. Even when you factor in that the 2013 fiscal year was one week shorter than in 2012, sales figures for 2013 are still down 4.3% ($500 million).

Some of that sales sag can be associated with the Staples stores that were shut down during 2013. But even then, same-store sales (which excludes online revenue) were down 4% in 2013.

The planned closure of 225 stores would leave 1,621 remaining North America. Staples says the closures are part of a larger $500 million savings program that will look to find money from “labor optimization, non-product related costs, IT hardware and services, marketing, sales force, and customer service.”

Staples, like many national chains that established themselves and underwent expansion in the decades leading up to the e-commerce boom, is feeling the pinch from online-only competitors who can offer same or similar products but at lower prices.

That said, the retailer’s online business is improving. In the fourth quarter of 2013, online sales were up 10% over the same quarter in 2012. Staples also says it recently increased the number of items for sale on from 100,000 to 500,000.

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