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Staples, Office Depot: The Gloves Are Off

If the presidential campaign has done anything, it has reinforced the notion that politics makes strange bedfellows:

For over a year now, archrivals Staples and Office Depot have also been making nice, in preparation for a buyout that would have created the world’s largest office supply chain.

 Unfortunately for them — and for what’s left of the office supply specialty channel — Uncle Sam saw things differently.

So now it’s back to bare knuckles for the two would-be partners, who still face the same seemingly insurmountable competition from Amazon, Costco, Walmart, et al., only separately.

Indeed, as TWICE e-mail blasted word of the scuttled merger, my in-box was blitzed by a barrage of “new price cuts” (Staples) and $25-off offers (Office Depot):

In declaring the deal dead, Staples’ chairman/CEO Ron Sargent said his company will now “sharpen its focus and more aggressively pursue its mid-market growth strategy” by cutting prices on core office products. Well, that didn’t take long!

So the gloves are off again between the two remaining national office supply chains, in a marketplace that analysts say can only sustain one. Let’s hope that in the coming paperclip wars the sole survivor doesn’t get bent.