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Staples N.A. Sales Rise 7%

8/17/2004 08:52:00 AM Eastern

FRAMINGHAM, MASS. — North American retail sales at office products retailer Staples jumped 7 percent in the company’s fiscal second quarter, reaching $1.7 billion, up from $1.6 billion in the year-ago period.

North American retail operating income soared 44 percent in the second quarter, ended July 31, hitting $96.2 million, compared with $66.9 million in the same three months in 2003. Same-store comparable sales rose to 4 percent, boosted by a strong performance in core office supplies, technology and furniture. Same-store comparable sales rose to 4 percent, boosted by a strong performance in core office supplies, technology and furniture.

For the six months, North American retail sales hit $3.7 billion, up from $3.4 billion in the same six months a year earlier. Operating income for the six months at the company’s North American retail segment came in at $202.3 million, up from $142.6 million a year ago.

Overall Staples sales in the second quarter increased 9 percent to $3.1 billion, up from $2.8 billion in the second three months of last year. Net income rose 39 percent, reaching $122.5 million from a year-earlier $87.8 million.

For the six months, overall sales came in at $6.5 billion, up from $5.9 billion year-over-year. Net income for the six months hit $248.2 million, compared with $112.5 million in the same six months in 2003.

Staples said inventory turns increased slightly less than one-half percent to 5.4 times in the second quarter, as the retailer continues to benefit from supply chain improvements.

The company said it plans to enter the $25 billion Chinese office products market and add two acquisitions to its European delivery operations. It also is expanding into Eastern European countries.