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Staples Sales Grow 13% In Fiscal Q3

Office supplies retailer Staples recorded a 13 percent increase in fiscal third quarter sales, climbing to $3.5 billion, compared with $3.1 billion in the year-ago period. The company cited strong back-to-school demand and increased sales of office supplies and furniture, among others, for the jump.

Net income reached $165.8 million in the third quarter, up from $128 million in the prior year. Total company operating margin was 7.7 percent, an all-time third quarter high.

Retail sales in North America hit $2.1 billion, up from $1.9 billion the previous year. North American comp-store sales rose 4 percent.

The North American retail segment achieved record profitability in the third quarter, ended Nov. 1, benefiting from an improved product mix, more efficient marketing and good expense control. Income rose to $160.7 million, up from $136.3 million in the same period a year ago, as the company focused more on the profitable small business area and increased its marketing of higher-margin private-label products.

For the nine months, North American retail sales came in at $5.6 billion, up from $5.1 billion in the year-ago three months. Income for the North American segment was $303.3 million for the nine months, compared with $241.3 million in the prior-year period.

Nine-month consolidated Staples sales reached $9.5 billion, compared with $8.3 billion year on year. Net income for the period was $278.3 million, up from $281.4 million in the same quarter in 2002. Pro forma net income for the first nine months of 2003 was $340 million.