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Staples Fis. Q3 Sales Increase 12%

11/16/2004 08:50:00 AM Eastern

Framingham, Mass. — As its customers reportedly responded to strong execution and ease of shopping experience, resulting in “rapid market-share gains,” office supply retailer Staples increased consolidated fiscal third-quarter sales by 12 percent, rising to $3.8 billion from a year-ago $3.4 billion.

Consolidated net income rose 26 percent in the third quarter, to $208.9 million from $165.8 million in the same three months a year earlier.

Operating margin in the quarter improved by 0.9 percent, to 8.7 percent, compared with the same quarter last year, while inventory turns company-wide improved by about 0.3 percent, reaching 5.49 times.

Retail comp sales in North America climbed 4 percent in the third quarter, ended Oct. 30, driven by increased customer traffic, strong performances in furniture and office supplies and a solid back-to-school season.

Total North American sales hit $2.3 billion in the third quarter, up from $2.1 billion in the same three months in 2003. North American retail operating income rose to $220.9 million, a 37 percent jump over the $160.7 million notched in the same three months in 2003.

“Staples customers are responding positively,” said Ron Sargent, president/CEO, and “our team remains focused on improving customer service, differentiating our brand and investing in profitable growth to expand our market leadership.”

For the nine months, consolidated Staples sales hit $10.4 billion, compared with a year-on-year $9.4 billion. Net income came in at $457.1 million, up from a year-ago $278.3 million.

North American retail sales for the nine months reached $5.9 billion, compared with $5.5 billion in the same period in 2003. North American retail operating income for the nine months registered $423.2 million, compared with $303.3 million in the same nine months the previous year.

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