Staples Inc.

Staples Inc.
Staples Inc.
Type Public (NASDAQSPLS)
Industry Retail
Founded November 1985
Founder(s) Leo Kahn
Thomas G. Stemberg
Headquarters Framingham, Massachusetts, United States
Number of locations 1,575 stores in the United States
2,281 stores worldwide
125 warehouses and fulfillment centers worldwide (2010)[1]
Products Office supplies, electronics, furniture
Revenue increase $24.5 billion USD (2010)
Net income increase 881.948 million (2010)
Employees > 90,000 (2009)

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

Staples sells supplies, office machines, promotional products, furniture, technology and business services both in stores and online. The company opened its first store in Brighton, Massachusetts in 1986. Quill Corporation is Staples most profitable division, accounting for nearly 25% of the company's net income. Between 1998 and 2009 Quill grew from $500 million in revenues to over $1.3 billion. The company is still one of Staples' fastest growing divisions and is led by Michael Patriarca, President of Quill Corporation.

The L in the logo is a stylized staple.



An older location at the Savi Ranch Center in Yorba Linda, California

Staples was co-founded by Leo Kahn and Thomas G. Stemberg, who were former rivals in the New England retail supermarket industry.[2][3][4]

The idea for Staples was created in 1985, while founder Thomas G. 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.[5] The first store was opened just outside Boston in 1986. This first store is no longer in its original location. It has since moved it next door.

In 1991, Staples founded its Canadian subsidiary, The Business Depot, and began opening stores under that name, 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 one of the Fortune 500 companies as sales surpass $3 billion. Staples acquired the naming rights for the Staples Center in Los Angeles during its construction in 1998. The 500th store was opened in Vero Beach, Florida and its 1000th store was opened in Duluth, Georgia.

On September 4, 1996, Staples and Office Depot announced plans to merge.[6] 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.[7] 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.

Between 1999 and 2001, unsuccessful attempts to enter telecommunications business was 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 launches Staples Foundation for Learning and acquires Medical Arts Press, which becomes part of Quill Corporation. By 2004, Staples expanded to Austria and Denmark and in 2007, Staples opens 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.[8] Staples also launched 11 concept stores in the New England area featuring a large focus on small business and technology related services.


The easy button.

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".

Following a television campaign featuring the 'Easy Button', it was turned into 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.

In March of 2011, Home Depot was found to be copying the "Easy Button" at a store in Edwardsville, IL.[citation needed]

The typical design for more recently built locations

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[citation needed], and the ad itself was parodied in an American 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.[9]

Their 2007 Back to school campaign was "Totally organized. Totally Easy." and the 2007 Holiday campaign was "That holiday was easy."

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.[10][11]

Business ventures

  • March 2005 - Staples Inc. and Ahold announced a joint collaboration in which all Stop & Shop Supermarkets and Giant Food stores throughout the Northeast will have a Staples branded store-within-store section that will sell traditional school and home office products in addition to copy and photo paper, ink cartridges, and technology products. The Staples store-within-store section had its debut in July 2005.[12] In August 2006, Ahold announced the addition of the Staples section to all Tops Friendly Markets locations as well.[13]


  • 1998 - Quill Corporation, the largest mail-order office supply retailer in the United States with revenues of $1.3B per year and EBITDA of over 20%.[1] Currently headquartered in Lincolnshire, Illinois, Quill offers more than 200,000 products including school and office supplies, office machines, furniture, technology, cleaning and breakroom, custom-printed and promotional products. Over 70% of Quill's sales are conducted online
  • 2002 - Medical Arts Press, a leading supplier in the United States of front-office and exam-room products for healthcare facilities, including medical, dental, chiropractic, veterinary, podiatric and eye care practices. Medical Arts Press carries over 18,000 products, including general office supplies, chart labels, end-tab folders, ink and toner, furniture, code books, postcards, breakroom supplies, and appointment books. It is Quill Corporation's most profitable business unit. Medical Arts Press has over $150M in annual revenues and is led by Terry Schwarting.
  • 2006 - Chiswick, distributes industrial and retail packaging, shipping and warehouse products to thousands of small and mid–sized manufacturers, distributors and retailers throughout the US and Canada. The company offers over 7,500 industrial and retail packaging and shipping products, and their product line includes a wide variety of polyethylene bags, corrugated boxes, tape, labels, protective packaging, mailers, retail shopping bags and related packaging supplies. Sales channels include Catalog/Direct Mail, the Internet and Outside Sales. It is now branded as Staples Industrial.
  • 2007 - Thrive Networks, an IT services company that provides IT support to small and mid–level businesses.
  • 2007 - American Identity, one of the largest global distributors of corporate branded merchandise. American Identity has since been re-branded as Staples Promotional Products.
  • 2008 - Corporate Express, a Dutch company that supplies office products to businesses and institutions. The firm was known as Buhrmann prior to April 20, 2007, when it changed its trading name to that of its best known brand, taken from the United States-based corporation it acquired in 1999. The company was acquired by Staples Inc. in August 2008 and has been re-branded to Staples Advantage

Environmental record

Staples is ranked in the top 25 of EPA's Green Power Partner list.[14] 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.[15] 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.[16] 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.[17] Its Savi Ranch store in Yorba Linda, CA also has a sizeable rooftop solar installation.


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 $2.00 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 Premier Rewards members are able to trade in twenty per month.[18]

Customer relations

In April 2007, Staples introduced its new "Staples Rewards" program. Benefits include free delivery on online purchases (over $75) 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 or associate members get free shipping on all orders. 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. 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 expired 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.


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. It is currently for sale for USD $4.99-$5.99 in all US and Canadian stores (where profits go to Special Olympics in Canada) and on the company's website. Donations also go to the Children's Fund. Staples has reportedly sold more than $7.5 million worth of Easy Buttons.[19]

Store layout

Copy & Print Center

Besides office supplies and business machines, Staples also offers a Copy and Print Center for faxing, custom business cards, custom stamps, promotional products, binding, laminating, folding, cutting and engraved products as well as photocopying services. Most locations have a full service UPS shipping center offering air, ground, international and freight services, (FedEx, DHL in the United Kingdom stores & Purolator in the Canadian stores), which is open during store hours. The copy center is often referred to as a "store inside a store", especially due to the fact that many of them have walls separating them from the rest of the store. The Copy and Print Center was also the first Print Center to offer custom business cards printed in store. Known as Business Cards in Minutes (BCIM) customers are able to have custom business cards in a matter of hours. Today, there are stand-alone Staples Copy & Print Stores, where Copy & Print is a brand of Staples in a reverse method, that are currently located in Boston and New York City.


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, 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.


  • Dalkir, S. and F. Warren-Boulton. 2003. “Market Definition and the Price Effects of Mergers: Staples-Office Depot (1997),” in The Antitrust Revolution: Economics, Competition and Policy. (John E. Kwoka and Lawrence J. White, eds.) Oxford University Press, 4th edition
  1. ^ Staples Inc. 2010 Annual Report
  2. ^ Martin, Douglas (2011-05-12). "Leo Kahn, Trailblazer in Big-Box Retailing, Dies at 94". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-05-22. 
  3. ^ Shapiro, T. Rees (2011-05-14). "Leo Kahn, entrepreneur who helped found Staples office-supply business, dies at 94". Washington Post. Retrieved 2011-05-22. 
  4. ^ Marquard, Bryan (2011-05-12). "Leo Kahn, co-founder of Staples, dies at 94". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2011-05-22. 
  5. ^ "Supplies and Demand". Bulletin Online. Harvard Business School. 1996-12-01. Retrieved 2007-01-10. 
  6. ^ "Antitrust and the Staples-Office Depot Merger". Legal Times. Retrieved 2009-11-29. 
  7. ^ "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.)
  8. ^ Reuters, June 12, 2008, Staples wins Corporate Express in $2.65 bln deal
  9. ^ Ramirez, Anthony (1995-01-26). "A wacky campaign pushes the envelope for abrasive humor". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). 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." 
  10. ^ The Ellen DeGeneres Show, December 5, 2008
  11. ^ Mesulam, Sheila Black Friday, Naples News, November 23, 2008
  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. ^!OpenDocument EPA Green Partners 4/30/07
  15. ^ Staples Environment
  16. ^ November 21st, 2003
  17. ^ Solar Roof Installation
  18. ^
  19. ^ Gogoi, Pallavi (2006-12-07). "Staples Makes Selling Look Easy". Business Week. Retrieved 2007-01-10. 

External links

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