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Office Depot Taps AutoZone’s Odland

3/15/2005 01:56:00 PM Eastern

Delray Beach, Fla. — The No. 2 office supply retailer Office Depot has tapped AutoZone’s chief executive Steve Odland as chairman/CEO, the company’s fourth in five years.

He succeeds board member Neil Austrian, who has served as interim chairman/CEO since the ouster of Bruce Nelson in October.

Odland boosted AutoZone’s sales, profits and share price during the four years he helmed the nation’s largest auto parts chain. Over the same period, Office Depot fell to second place in the office supply channel behind Staples, whose growth rate has long outpaced its rivals.

“Steve’s track record in delivering strong operating performance and excellent financial results in challenging business environments makes him the ideal person to lead our company to the next level,” Austrian said.

Wall Street agreed, boosting Office Depot’s shares 8 percent in the hours following yesterday’s announcement, while AutoZone’s stock price fell 13 percent.

In a statement, Odland said his focus will be on “driving profitable growth by exceeding the expectations of our customers, and building shareholder value by making Office Depot an industry leader in efficiency and productivity.”

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