Office Depot, OfficeMax Begin Consolidation

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BOCA RATON, FLA. – Within days of their longawaited merger, Office Depot and OfficeMax began implementing plans to consolidate the two companies and their cultures.

In its first move, the merged entity, operating under the Office Depot name, bypassed the former CEO’s of both chains to select an industry outsider for the top slot – former Wendy’s and Arby’s CEO Roland Smith.

Smith most recently served as president/CEO of Delhaize America, the $18 billion parent of the Food Lion, Sweetbay and Hannaford supermarket chains, where he consolidated and integrated the company’s brands and operations.

Two weeks later fellow Wendy’s alum Stephen Hare was tapped as executive VP and chief financial officer, replacing the retiring Mike Newman and reporting to Smith.

The company next chose Office Depot’s headquarter town of Boca Raton, Fla., to serve as the base of operations for the newly combined company, citing its larger footprint which could better accommodate the expanded operations.

More recently, Smith announced a new organizational structure featuring an executive committee and a leadership team that “focuses on accountability and streamlined decision making,” he said. The executive committee reports to him and is comprised of Hare; international president Steve Schmidt; human resources executive VP Michael Allison; chief legal officer Elisa Garcia; and two as yet unfilled posts: North America president and chief strategy and innovation officer.

The leadership team includes members of the executive committee plus nine executives who report to Hare and the North America president post. They include Ron Lalla, merchandising executive VP; Tim Rea, marketing executive VP; Larry Hartley, supply chain senior VP; real estate senior VP Rob Koch; senior VP and global chief information officer Todd Hale; integration senior VP Deb O’Connor; and Steve Calkins, executive VP of contract sales.

The leadership team also includes two as yet unfilled posts: retail executive VP, currently held by candidate and interim retail chief Juan Guerrero; and ecommerce executive VP, currently held by candidate and interim e-commerce head Mike Kirschner, both veterans of Office Depot.

The new structure and integration process resulted in the departure of “a number of very talented and well-respected executives,” Smith noted. He added that the chain “will now move quickly to select the best talent available from both legacy companies to build a world-class organization focused on exceeding the expectations of consumers and businesses, becoming a more appealing partner to our vendors, and ultimately driving value for our shareholders.”

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