OfficeMax today began testing its IBM store-within-a-store concept in seven markets nationwide to determine if the format is a viable method of boosting sales to the small business market.
Separately, John Martin, president of OfficeMax retail stores, is leaving the company due to a reorganization.
Starting today, the 34 OfficeMax stores involved in the IBM test - located in Albuquerque, N.M., Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, Pa., Providence, R.I., and Albany and Syracuse, N.Y. - will carry only IBM computer products along with select peripherals and software.
Each IBM "store" is 336 square feet in size and positioned at the front of each OfficeMax site.
While the stores will carry IBM's consumer-oriented Aptiva PCs and ThinkPad i Series notebooks, each will stock small servers, commercial-level notebooks, and other products to create solutions for home and small businesses.
Part of the test has half the IBM stores staffed and operated by IBM-paid personnel. IBM-trained OfficeMax sales associates run the remaining half.
How the two companies would split the revenue generated from the IBM-run stores was not revealed.
OfficeMax and IBM jointly announced the plan in January as a way to boost high-margin business sales. John McArdaragh, IBM's worldwide marketing VP for the Aptiva brand, said some of the experience the company gained during its year-long relationship with RadioShack was incorporated into this new operation.
OfficeMax founder and CEO Michael Feuer said he is heading a new executive operating team to "change and flatten" the retailer's structure. Martin will not be replaced. However, a search for a COO has begun.