Staples Cuts Jobs In Preparation For Life With Or Without Office Depot Merger

It appears that Staples is adhering to the adage, “hope for the best, prepare for the worst,” when it comes to their challenged billion-dollar merger with rival Office Depot. This week, the retailer took steps to streamline its operation, changing its management team and reportedly laying off hundreds of employees at its headquarters. 

Staples says the changes, which include a new president of North American stores and a new president of international operations, were initiated in order make the company run more efficiently, whether or not the $6.3 billion merger with Office Depot gains approval.

“These changes will help us compete in a rapidly evolving marketplace, either as a stand-alone company or in combination with Office Depot,” Ron Sargent, chairman and chief executive officer, said in the statement.

While Staples didn’t mention layoffs of employees at its headquarters on Monday, sources with the company tell Fortune that hundreds of workers were let go this week.

“It was a bloodbath,” one employee tells Fortune, noting that the layoffs applied to both senior and junior employees.

A spokesperson for the company declined to comment on the layoffs, pointing Fortune to its earlier press release about leadership changes.

Staples is currently battling regulators to gain approval for its merger with rival Office Depot.

In December, the Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit to block the merger based on the findings that a merged company would reduce competition nationwide in the market for “consumable” office supplies – pens, paper, sticky notes, etc. – sold to large business customers.

Because Massachusetts-based Staples – the world’s largest seller of office products and services – and Florida-based Office Depot are each other’s closest competitors in the sale of office supplies to large business customers, the agency believe that the proposed merger would “eliminate beneficial competition that large companies rely on to reduce the costs of office supplies.”

The FTC’s lawsuit is the second time the FTC has taken action to ban the marriage of the retailers. In 1997, the commission won a ruling from a federal judge blocking a deal.

Staples Lays Off Hundreds of Employees [Fortune]