Staples Net Drops 33%, Intros Good Grips Line

America's corporate penny-pinching is still putting the squeeze on Staples, and the world's largest office-supply company says its net income tumbled 33% in the first quarter to $143 million. Total sales gained 19%, says the Framingham, Mass.-based company, to $5.8 billion, but that includes the results of its recently acquired Corporate Express.

In North America, after adjusting for that acquisition, sales fell 13% in U.S. dollars, and internationally, sales slipped 11% in local currency. On a comparable-store basis, sales declined 8%, "reflecting declines in average order size and weakness in durable categories such as business machines and furniture, somewhat offset by growth in ink and cut sheet paper."

The company says that although it spent less in marketing, it achieved all-time high customer satisfaction scores.

While companies like Staples can't do much about the economy, they can introduce office products that make work seem more appealing for stressed-out cubicle dwellers -- it recently unveiled OXO Good Grips, a new office products line that it co-designed with OXO, a brand best known among cooks. The products include scissors, staplers, rulers and clipboards, as well as a colorful array of magnets, cubicle clips and paper clips.



"Staples has long admired OXO Good Grips, and through research, our customers have told us they too admire and trust the brand," Staples says in its release. "The opportunity to collaborate with OXO to bring a trusted household brand into the office has resulted in a new line of products that help make everyday office tasks easier for our customers at Staples." Staples says the new line has generated "more than 10 utility and design patents pending."

And separately, rival OfficeMax announced that its [IN]PLACE System by Peter Walsh -- an organizational filing system it introduced recently in an appeal to people's desire to work smarter -- won the Organizers Choice award from the National Association of Professional Organizers.

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