Office Depot reported a 6 percent jump in first-quarter sales for its North American retail division, hitting $1.7 billion, up from $1.6 billion. Comp-store sales in the United States and Canada edged upward 1 percent in the three months.
Operating profit at Office Depot's North American retail segment climbed to $130.1 million in the first quarter, ended March 26, compared with $111.6 million in the same period a year ago.
Gross margin as a percentage of sales increased during the first quarter, to 27 percent, up from 26.7 percent in the same period last year, for North American stores. Broad-based product category gross margin percentage improvements were offset by an increased sales mix of lower margin technology products, said the company.
Cost management efforts produced about one-half a percentage point decrease in store and warehouse operating expenses.
Office Depot opened 29 new North American stores in the first quarter, closed three and relocated one office supply store. At the end of the three months, the retailer operated 995 office products superstores in North America.
Consolidated net sales in the first quarter increased 3 percent, hitting $3.7 billion, up from $3.6 billion year-on-year.
Consolidated operating profit in the three months was off 5 percent to $164.9 million, from $174.4 million in the same three months in 2004. The company reported that soft international demand offset a rise in North American sales. International sales were down 2 percent in U.S. dollars.
Consolidated net income was flat for the first quarter, at $115.3 million, compared with $114.9 million year-over-year.