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OfficeMax Posts Flat Q1 Sales

The closing of 109 underperforming stores in the first quarter negatively impacted overall sales at office products retailer OfficeMax, with retail segment revenue declining 0.5 percent year-on-year to $1.19 billion.

Same-store sales rose 1.2 percent for the first quarter, ended April 1. Excluding the closed stores, same-store sales increased 2.2 percent, with the retailer’s comp rise benefiting from positive sales in nearly every product category, with continued strength in print and document services.

Retail operating profit included a $98.6 million charge related to the 109 store closings. Excluding this item, operating income increased by $37.7 million to $60.6 million. Including the charge, retail recorded a loss of $38 million, compared with a profit of $22.9 million in the first quarter of 2005. Retail operating profit benefited from targeted cost reductions, including reduced store labor costs and advertising and marketing expenses.

Retail segment gross margin moved up to 28.6 percent in the first three months of the year, compared with 26.4 percent in the same three months in 2005.

During the first quarter, OfficeMax opened six new stores, ending the three months with 867 locations, compared with 940 at the end of the first three months of the prior year.

“In our retail segment, we saw significant improvement through a more productive promotional strategy and effective cost control,” said Sam Duncan, chairman/CEO.