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Office Depot CEO Roland Smith Stepping Down Next Year

Two months after Staples CEO Ron Sargent relinquished the corner office, his counterpart in the failed merger of the last remaining office supply superstores — Office Depot’s Roland Smith — has announced plans to follow suit.

Smith, a former West Point cadet, Army pilot and CEO of the Wendy’s and Arby’s fast-food chains, said he had “set aside a number of personal ambitions,” including climbing Mount Everest, again, to join the No. 2 office supply retailer in 2013 to lead its week-old merger with OfficeMax.

His contract expiring, he now plans to retire by the end of the first quarter, when a CEO is expected to be named.

But unlike Sargent, who will give up his non-executive chairman seat on Jan. 28, 2017, Smith will stay on as chairman of his company’s board.

In addition to his pending departure as chief executive, the senior management team is being reorganized to better align with a new three-year strategic plan. Under the plan, the company’s retail, e-commerce, contract and marketing operations are being consolidated under retail executive VP Troy Rice, who has been given the new title of North America COO.

In addition, real estate senior VP Rob Koch was named business development executive VP.

Both Rice and Koch will report to North America president Mark Cosby until a new CEO is named, after which the president and CEO roles will be combined.

The company said it will consider both internal and external candidates for the chief executive post.

The three-year strategic plan, developed with the help of global management consultancy Bain & Company, calls for:

*accelerating opportunities in the contract channel

*optimizing and reinventing the North American retail model

*implementing multi-year cost reductions across the company

*returning capital to shareholders.