Roland Smith: Office Depot Chief Staples Two Former Rivals

Combining two disparate cultures and infrastructures into a single competitive entity
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 Office Depot chairman/CEO Roland Smith

On the first anniversary of its merger with OfficeMax, Office Depot chairman/CEO Roland Smith last month described the combination as “a huge success.”

Not one for false modesty, the former fast-food kingpin nonetheless deserves kudos for quickly combining two disparate cultures and infrastructures into a single competitive entity that is better positioned to contend with No. 1 rival Staples.

Evidence of his success: higher-than-anticipated cost savings of more than $750 million a year, up $50 million from pre-merger estimates, and adjusted net income that’s up 92 percent from last year’s combined adjusted tallies.

On a third-quarter earnings call last month, Smith, a turnaround expert who previously led Wendy’s, Arby’s and the Food Lion, Sweetbay and Hannaford supermarket chains, said the Office Depot is one-third of the way through its three-year integration plan, and that the latest results “confirm that we continue to execute exceptionally well.”

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