Staples Inc.

Staples, Inc.
Traded as NASDAQ: SPLS
S&P 500 Component
Industry Retail
Founded May 1, 1986 (1986-05-01)
Brighton, Massachusetts, United States
Founder Leo Kahn
Thomas G. Stemberg
Headquarters Framingham, Massachusetts, United States
Number of locations
3,856 stores
125 warehouses/fulfillment centers (2010)[1]
Area served
Key people
Shira Goodman
(Chairman & CEO)
Joseph G. Doody
(Vice Chairman)
Christine Komola
Products Office Supplies
Facility & Janitorial Supplies
Office Furnishing
IT Consulting
Office and Data Center Technology Hardware Sourcing
Industry-specific supplies
Health and Beauty
Revenue Decrease US$ 21.059 billion (2015)
Increase US$ 379 million (2015)
Total assets Decrease US$ 10.172 billion (2015)
Number of employees
79,075 (2015)
Divisions Staples Argentina
Staples Canada
Subsidiaries Staples Office Centre
Staples Advantage

Staples, Inc. is a large United States office supply chain store, with over 3,000 stores worldwide in 26 countries. Headquartered in Framingham, Massachusetts, the company has retail stores serving customers under its original name in Australia, Austria, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States, while operating subsidiaries in Argentina as Officenet-Staples, in Netherlands as Staples Office Centre, in Canada as Staples Canada (Bureau en Gros in Quebec Province), and in Italy as Mondoffice. Staples also does business extensively with enterprises in the United States, Canada, and multiple European countries as Staples Advantage.[2]

Staples sells supplies which include staples, office machines, promotional products, technology, and business services both in stores and online. The company opened its first store in Brighton, Massachusetts on May 1, 1986.


Staples was co-founded by Leo Kahn and Thomas G. Stemberg, who were former rivals in the New England retail supermarket industry.[3][4][5]

Staples store Rt.1, Saugus, Massachusetts

The idea for Staples originated in 1985, while Stemberg was working on a proposal for a different business. He needed a ribbon for his printer, but was unable to obtain one because his local dealer was closed for the Independence Day holiday. A frustration with the reliance on small stores for critical supplies combined with Stemberg's background in the grocery business led to a vision for an office supply superstore.[6] The first store was opened in the Brighton neighborhood of Boston in 1986. Staples started with backing from private equity firms including Bain Capital; Bain co-founder Mitt Romney served on the company's board of directors for the next 15 years, helping shape their business model.[7]

A Staples Business Depot located in a heritage building in Vancouver, British Columbia.

In 1991, Staples founded its Canadian subsidiary, The Business Depot, and began opening stores under that name,[8] though over a decade later, all stores were renamed as "Staples". The first store opened in Vaughan, Ontario, Canada north of Toronto. The following year, Staples began expanding into Europe, and opened its first store in Swansea, United Kingdom.

During its 10th anniversary in 1996, Staples became a member of the Fortune 500 companies as sales surpassed $3 billion. On September 4, 1996, Staples and Office Depot announced plans to merge.[9] The Federal Trade Commission decided that the superpower would unfairly increase office supply prices despite competition from OfficeMax, because OfficeMax did not have stores in many of the local markets that the merger would affect.[10] Staples ultimately argued that chains such as Wal-Mart and Circuit City Stores represented significant competition, but this argument did little to sway the FTC. Following the denial of the merger by the FTC, a rivalry has formed between the two companies.

Staples acquired the naming rights for the Staples Center in Los Angeles during its construction in 1998. Staples also acquired Quill Corporation for about $685 million in cash and stock and launched Between 1999 and 2001, unsuccessful attempts to enter the telecommunications business were made as Staples created Staples Communications after the purchase of Canada-based company, Claricom, from an investment group. The company was later sold to Platinum Equities and renamed NextiraOne.

By 2001, Staples integrated its e-commerce website to all of its subsidiaries across the world. In 2002, Staples launched Staples Foundation for Learning and acquired Medical Arts Press, which became a subsidiary of Quill Corporation. By 2004, Staples expanded to Austria and Denmark and in 2007, Staples opened its first store in India. In 2008, Staples acquired Dutch office supplies company Corporate Express, one of the largest office supply wholesalers in the world.[11] Staples also launched 11 concept stores in the New England area featuring a large focus on small business and technology related services.

In March 2005, Staples and Ahold announced a plan to include a Staples branded store-within-store section in all Stop & Shop Supermarkets and Giant Food stores throughout the Northeast.[12] In August 2006, Ahold announced the addition of the Staples section to all Tops Friendly Markets locations as well.[13]

On March 6, 2014, Staples announced it would close up to 225 stores in North America by the end of 2015, in order to cut $500 million in costs annually.[14]

On February 4, 2015, Staples announced a plan to once again acquire Office Depot, which itself had recently acquired OfficeMax in a bid to compete against Staples. It was reported that the deal could face antitrust scrutiny for its monopolization of the office supply market, unless growing competition against online retailers is considered a factor as well.[15] On December 7, 2015, the FTC filed a lawsuit to halt the merger, arguing that the merger would harm competition in the commercial office supply market. Staples intends to challenge the complaint[16] and as of January 2016, the FTC has not changed its stance.[17] On May 10, 2016, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia granted the FTC a preliminary injunction against the merger. After the ruling, Office Depot and Staples announced termination of their proposed merger. [18]

In late January 2016, it was announced to employees that Staples would be laying off hundreds of workers at their headquarters location. The layoffs are seen by some analysts as a preemptive tactic in case the proposed merger with rival Office Depot did not receive regulatory approval from the Federal Trade Commission.[19]

In May 2016, the FTC denied the merger of Office Depot and Staples, sending stocks of both companies tumbling.[20]

In November 2016, it was announced that Staples was to sell its United Kingdom operations to Hilco for a "nominal" sum. Hilco said it was planning to phase out Staples-branded shops over the coming months, and the Staples name is set to disappear from the United Kingdom.[21]


The easy button.
Staples - "That was easy"
2 seconds

Problems playing this file? See media help.

Throughout most of the company's history, Staples employed, in its American commercials and advertising promotions, the slogan "Yeah, we've got that.", signifying their wide selection of products. This slogan was retired in 2003, to be replaced with "That was easy." Expanding on that theme, 2005 ads featured a large red push-button marked "easy". In the UK, Staples had used the slogan "You want it. We've got it"; they have now changed it to "That was Easy".

Originally, the "Easy Button" was only intended to be a fictitious button with 'magical' properties, featured in their television ad campaign. However, when the ads appeared, customers began contacting the company to inquire how they could buy one.[22] The company responded by making the "Easy Button" a real product (available in English "easy", French "simple", Spanish "fácil" and German "einfach easy"). These buttons were shipped to stores in the US, Canada and Germany starting in the fall of 2005. Sales of the buttons reached 1.5 million by the end of 2006.[23] The button has been referred to as a "Marketer's Dream," effectively turning millions of Staples customers into advertisers, resulting in greatly increased brand recognition.

The typical design for more recently built locations. This location is located in Ontario, California.

The Staples Snowbot was an advertising character that appeared in the United States, in television and print advertising during the 2000 and 2001 Christmas seasons.

The Snowbot was a robot shaped like a snowman who refuses to let go of the inkjet printer he has fallen in love with. After the printer is wrestled from his grasp, the robot utters a monotone "Weeping. Weeping." He is consoled by a Staples employee who offers him a surge protector or a computer mouse (depending on the ad) instead.

The robot's "Weeping. Weeping." catchphrase briefly became a popular meme on the Internet, and the ad itself was parodied in a 2002 Christmas ad for Dell Computers, in which a robot hassles a shopper (including striking him with a candy cane) when he attempts to purchase a PC at an unnamed office supplies retailer.

Another ad style is used during its annual back to school campaign, in which the Christmas song "It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" is played while parents joyously shop for school supplies for their children, used for several years beginning in 1994.[24]

Later, Alice Cooper appeared in a back-to-school campaign from 2004. Within the ad, a hand is seen selecting various supplies while a girl looks on unhappily. She finally says, "I thought you said, 'School's out forever.'" Alice is shown behind the cart, saying, "The song goes 'School's out for summer'. Nice try, though." The hit song then plays as supplies are shown. The tagline, "That was easy," is heard playing over the company logo, formed to resemble a stapler.[25]

During the 2008 holiday season, Staples advertising for the first time engaged Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media platforms. The company created a character named "Coach Tom" to promote its “Gift it for Free” sweepstakes, in which 10,000 Staples customers won up to $5,000 in merchandise.[26][27]

The Staples tagline again changed in January 2014 to "Make More Happen."[28]


A Staples outlet in Campbell Street, Hobart, Australia. These former Corporate Express stores/distribution centers were rebranded in early 2013, however some still retain that company's corporate colors.[29]

Environmental record

Staples is ranked in the top 25 of EPA's Green Power Partner list.[34] In 2006, Staples offered more than 2,900 different office products incorporating recycled content. Staples is currently trying to pursue developing Staples brand products with green raw materials.[35] In response to a 2-year campaign targeting the company, Staples adopted an environmentally friendly paper policy, in hopes of increasing the amount of post-consumer recycled paper made available for sale, phasing out products originating from endangered forests.[36] The Hanover, Maryland fulfillment center is powered by a 1.01 megawatt solar installation covering nearly 175,000 square feet (16,300 m2) of roof space.[37] Its Savi Ranch store in Yorba Linda, CA also has a sizeable rooftop solar installation. Staples has also recently implemented power reduction strategies in all of their Copy & Print Centers where the copiers enter sleep mode in as little as 15 minutes after use. This technique will save Staples nearly $1 million a year in reduced energy costs and prevent over 11 million pounds of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere. In November 2014, Staples partnered with EnergySage to give Staples giftcards to homeowners and businesses that installed solar panels.[38]


Staples accepts all used ink and toner cartridges for recycling. Prior to 2008, the only cartridges that could be recycled were HP, Kodak, and Dell, and customers were given a three dollar coupon for the store, with a maximum number of coupons that could be given, or redeemed, at any time being 25. Starting in 2008 and continuing to the present, one's ink recycling goes on the customer's Staples Rewards. Staples now gives back two dollars on all ink cartridges and toners as of July, 2010. Ink recycling credit comes to Rewards members as a separate coupon, monthly, instead of the normal quarterly rewards check. Most customers are able to trade in ten per month for credit, whilst Staples Plus and Premier Rewards members are able to trade in twenty per month. As of February 28, 2013, Staples announced that in order to receive $2 per ink cartridge recycled, customers would be required to spend at least $30 at Staples in ink purchases within 180 days of recycling.[39]

Customer relations

In April 2007, Staples introduced its new "Staples Rewards" program. Benefits include free delivery on online purchases (of $45 or more) and a quarterly 10% Rewards Coupons of purchases at the Copy and Print Center, and purchases of paper, ink, and toner. Previously Staples offered free delivery on any order for Staples Rewards card holders. Currently only Premier members get free shipping on all orders, base Rewards members get free shipping when using a Staples Credit Card and Rewards card or there order is over 14 dollars. Premier status can be attained when one spends $1,000 or more in a calendar year.

As of January 1, 2010, "Staples Rewards" now consists of the following: Earn 10% back in Staples Rewards on ink, toner, paper, and Copy and Print Center purchases every month as long as you have earned $10 or more. Also, anyone can recycle up to 10 ink or toner (20 for Premier) cartridges a month and receive $2 per cartridge in a separate Rewards Coupon if the member has spent at least $30 in ink and/or toner purchases at Staples over the previous 180 days. Ink Recycling Statements are now emailed.

There is no limit to the total amount of Rewards Coupons a customer can earn (one can receive multiple coupons) and has to reach a minimum of $10 in rewards for the 10% portion or it will roll over until either it has been reached or the end of the calendar quarter (whichever comes first). Rewards Statements are now emailed monthly and will expire at the end of the quarter.

Staples' stores in the United Kingdom began trialling the previously named "Staples Business Rewards" at a selected number of "Hypergrowth" stores (such as Milton Keynes, Poole, Sheffield and Southampton stores) during May 2005. To receive their rewards, customers must spend £100 or more each quarter to receive 2% back on standard purchases and 20% back on Copy and Print Centre purchases. A basic "Staples Reward" customer can receive up to £50 back in cash vouchers (which have no minimum 'spend-in-store"). If a customer spends £1,000 or more in a calendar year, the customer is upgraded to the prestigious "Premier Rewards" of which they receive 5% on standard purchases and 20% back on the Copy and Print Centre, again if the customer spends over £100 during each quarter. The customer can also receive back up to £100 in vouchers.

Security breaches

On Oct. 20, 2014 KrebsOnSecurity reported a suspected breach at Staples, after hearing multiple banks had identified a pattern of card fraud (suggesting that several Staples office supply locations in the Northeastern United States were dealing with a data breach). At the time, Staples would say only that it was investigating “a potential issue” and had contacted law enforcement.

On December 19, 2014 Staples reported that criminals had deployed malware to point-of-sale systems at 115 of their U.S. retail stores. At 113 stores, the malware may have allowed access to this data for purchases made from August 10, 2014 through September 16, 2014. At two stores, the malware may have allowed access to data from purchases made from July 20, 2014 through September 16, 2014. Overall, the company believes that approximately 1.16 million payment cards may have been affected.

On July 14, 2015, Numerous news outlets started to report a suspected data breach at retailers served by online photo software from PNI - Staples' recent acquisition. The first reported victim was Walmart Canada, followed by CVS, Rite-Aid, Costco US, Costco Canada and Tesco UK. At time of writing (30 July) the photo websites of all of these retailers remained shutdown with no ETA on restoration.

During the period July 13–28, 2015, Staples Inc share price fell from $15.59 to $13.97, a 10% fall which reflected a reduction in Staples market value of almost $1bn.


In 2002, the company started the Staples Foundation for Learning, which supports youth groups and education. It also is a partner of Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Ashoka, Earth Force, Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, Hispanic Heritage Foundation and through Staples, ReadBoston.

In August 2005, Staples introduced the "Easy Button", a novelty item for offices which is advertised as a fun way of relieving stress. The button does nothing other than say "That was easy" when pressed. The first USD 1 million of profits each year from the Easy Button are donated to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. As of December 2006, it was sold for USD $4.99–$6.99 in all US and Canadian stores (where profits go to Special Olympics in Canada) and on the company's website. Donations also went to the Children's Fund. Staples has reportedly sold more than $7.5 million worth of Easy Buttons.[40]

Store layout

Printing & Marketing Solutions

Formerly known as the copy & print center, In addition to selling office supplies, business machines, and tech services Staples also offers a copy and print center for photocopies, digital printing, faxing, custom business cards, custom rubber stamps, promotional products, binding, lamination, folding, cutting and engraved products. Most locations have a full service UPS shipping center offering air, ground, international and freight services, (DHL in the United Kingdom stores & FedEx, Purolator in the Canadian stores and select US stores have USPS and UPS as well), which is open during store hours. In Canada, most web submission jobs and larger orders, including business cards, posters and books are produced in central production facility in each region. The production facilities operate 24-hours and orders are shipped to most of the stores within its regions within a day. The regions in Canada are BC/Yukon, Alberta/NWT, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, and Maritime. The Copy & Print Center was also the first Print Center to offer custom business cards printed in store. Known as 'Instant Business Cards' customers are able to have custom business cards in a matter of hours. Staples also operates stand-alone Copy & Print Stores (currently located in Boston and New York City) where Copy & Print is a brand of Staples. Copy print center was renamed in July 2016 to Printing & Marketing Solutions.


Some stores also feature Staples EasyTech, an in-store and on-site service for PC repair, PC upgrades, home and office networking setup, and PC tutorials.

Starting in November 2005, Staples began a test called "Heavy Up" primarily using stores in New York state to experiment with the expansion of the offerings by the Staples Tech Center. A subsequent test known as "Double Up" was planned for an unspecified test market and was scheduled to begin the first half of 2006. The tests ran to promote competition with Best Buy's Geek Squad and Circuit City's Fire dog.

Beginning in early 2006, Staples also launched the "Easy Resident Tech" program, employing one to two resident computer repair technicians to do in-store repair during normal business hours.

Beginning January 30, 2007, Staples launched Staples EasyTech. The launch rebranded the "Easy Mobile Tech" name with plans to install an 11' x 17' kiosk in every store. The kiosk may vary from store to store depending on its size and volume. Most kiosks take up part of the Customer Service desk. Within the kiosk, Easy Resident Techs offered repair service as well as sold products. These technicians wore gray "Easy Tech" polo shirts to distinguish them from regular Staples workers. While there was typically one tech per store, a second tech may have been employed for high-volume stores.

Beginning July 2008, Staples launched a new program labeling all technology workers as "EasyTechs". Under the new guidelines all technology workers are required to have the skills necessary to perform basic services such as memory installation and PC configuration. In addition, all technology workers wear black polo shirts with green "EasyTech" emblems to set them apart from other store workers. The change was due to the company's new focus on services, allowing more customers to be assisted in less time. Most stores will still have a main "EasyTech" who performs most of the more complex tasks.

Beginning November 2008, 11 concept stores featuring a broader array of small business technology services were launched, which are known by the company as Best Tech stores. EasyTechs and sales workers were now referred to as "Tech Advisors" and "Solutions Advisors". The concept stores carry many more technology related products such as digital signage, small business servers, NAS (Network Attached Storage), and business networking. Staples also partnered with an on-demand IT service provider, with such services as network monitoring, advanced network configurations, and server setup. These concept stores are mainly based in New Hampshire, with stores in Nashua, Seabrook, West Lebanon, Dover and Concord. Some stores with this new concept also opened in Massachusetts, including the Auburn store. Other existing stores have been renovated to include Best Tech's services, including the Newington, and Natick store.

See also


  1. Staples Inc. 2010 Annual Report
  3. Martin, Douglas (2011-05-12). "Leo Kahn, Trailblazer in Big-Box Retailing, Dies at 94". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-05-22.
  4. Shapiro, T. Rees (2011-05-14). "Leo Kahn, entrepreneur who helped found Staples office-supply business, dies at 94". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2011-05-22.
  5. Marquard, Bryan (2011-05-12). "Leo Kahn, co-founder of Staples, dies at 94". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2011-05-22.
  6. "Supplies and Demand". Bulletin Online. Harvard Business School. 1996-12-01. Retrieved 2007-01-10.
  7. Goodison, Donna (August 30, 2012). "Thomas Stemberg preps for Stem-winder praising Mitt Romney". Boston Herald. Retrieved 2012-08-31.
  8. "Staples, Inc. -- Company History". Retrieved 2016-02-05.
  9. "Antitrust and the Staples-Office Depot Merger". Legal Times. Retrieved 2009-11-29.
  10. "FTC WILL SEEK TO BLOCK STAPLES/OFFICE DEPOT MERGER". Federal Trade Commission. 1997-03-10. Retrieved 2007-01-10. A U.S. Court agreed. (Dalkir and Warren-Boulton, 2003.)
  11. Reuters, June 12, 2008, Staples wins Corporate Express in $2.65 bln deal
  12. "Stop & Shop/Giant Launch Staples Branded School and Home Office Supplies Sections". Ahold. Retrieved 2006-10-03.
  13. "Tops Markets partners with Staples to make one-stop shopping easy". Ahold. Archived from the original on 2006-08-19. Retrieved 2006-10-03.
  14. "Staples to shutter 225 stores as sales move online". Associated Press. March 6, 2014.
  15. "Staples Agrees to Buy Office Depot for About $6.3 Billion". Bloomberg. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
  16. "Staples Drops After U.S. Moves to Challenge Office Depot Deal". Bloomberg. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
  17. Kosman, Josh. "FTC has no interest in allowing Staples acquisition of Office Depot". New York Post. New York Post. Retrieved 15 January 2016.
  18. Bartz, Diane. "Staples, Office Depot scrap merger deal after judge rules for FTC". Reuters. Retrieved 10 May 2016.
  19. Woolhouse, Megan (2016-01-28). "Staples reportedly laying off hundreds, but stays mum". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2016-01-28.
  20. "Staples loses big". Retrieved June 6, 2016.
  21. "Staples brand to disappear from UK High Streets". BBC News. 17 November 2016. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
  22. Myser, Michael (2006-05-18). "Marketing Made Easy". CNN. Retrieved 2015-07-25.
  23. Walker, Rob (2006-12-17). "Ad Play". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-07-25.
  24. Ramirez, Anthony (1995-01-26). "A wacky campaign pushes the envelope for abrasive humor". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-01-18. Perhaps the most daring Staples spot was the back-to-school commercial broadcast in August. Filmed in a Staples store, of all places, the commercial pulled out the stops in abrasive bravado. As the Christmas song 'It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year' plays in the background, an overjoyed father in baggy shorts and loafers dances down the aisles.
  25., Retrieved December 3, 2015.
  26. The Ellen DeGeneres Show, December 5, 2008
  27. Mesulam, Sheila Black Friday, Naples News, November 23, 2008
  29. Dutt, Rimin (16 October 2012). "Staples ditches Corporate Express name". ARN. Retrieved 19 June 2013.
  30. Staples Acquires Office World
  31. Staples to buy Office World UK - The Register , March 26, 2004
  32. Euan Rocha (6 May 2014). "Staples to buy retail-focused software firm PNI Digital". Reuters.
  33. "Staples to buy PNI Digital for $67.3 million". AP. 5 May 2014.
  34. EPA Green Partners: EPA Recognizes Largest-Ever Corporate Green Power Purchase, 4/30/07
  35. Staples Environment & advantage
  36. Staples' Environmental Progress Report Fuels Further Criticism of Office Depot, November 21st, 2003
  37. Solar Roof Installation: Staples facility unveils solar rooftop
  38. "Install solar, get a Staples gift card". Boston Globe. November 13, 2014. Retrieved August 21, 2015.
  39. Staples Rewards® Premier Gold benefits |®
  40. Gogoi, Pallavi (2006-12-07). "Staples Makes Selling Look Easy". Business Week. Retrieved 2007-01-10.


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