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Staples N.A. Retail Sales Jump 8%

2/28/2006 09:16:00 AM Eastern

Framingham, Mass. — Revenue in the North American retail business at Staples increased 8 percent in the office products company’s fiscal fourth quarter, rising to $2.6 billion from a year-ago $2.4 billion, while same-store sales rose 3 percent during the period.

Income in the North American retail business climbed about 12 percent to $288.5 million from a year-earlier $258 million, for the three months ended Jan. 28.

When North American delivery sales and international operations are added to North American retail figures, consolidated Staples revenue for the fourth quarter was up 9 percent, reaching $4.5 billion, compared with the $4.1 billion posted in same quarter the previous year.

Delivery sales at Staples continued to grow much faster than store sales, with the delivery operation now accounting for more than one-third of the retailer’s total revenue. The chain said delivery remains the most profitable segment of its overall business, despite rising fuel costs.

Consolidated net income for the quarter came in at $290 million, a 15 percent hike over the $251.3 million reported the prior year.

Staples, which opened 99 stores over its fiscal year, with 25 in the Chicago market, said total-company inventory turns reached 5.76 times. Staples-brand products grew to 18 percent of sales for the 12 months, while the retailer’s North American retail copy and print centers grew sales in the double-digits.

For the year, North American retail sales climbed 9 percent, hitting $9 billion, up from $8.3 billion the previous year. Comp-store sales increased 3 percent.

North American retail income for the year grew to $816.5 million from $681.2 million, nearly 20 percent.

Consolidated year-end sales jumped 11 percent, reaching $16.1 billion, compared with $14.4 billion a year earlier.

Consolidated net income for the 12 months increased 18 percent to $834.4 million, up from $708.4 million in the same 12 months a year ago.

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