Office Depot Sales Rise 4 Percent

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Total sales for Office Depot Inc. in its fiscal third quarter ended Sept. 28 increased 4 percent to $2.9 billion compared with its fiscal third quarter last year, the Delray Beach, FL, company said yesterday.

For the first nine months of 2002, sales rose 3 percent to $8.5 billion compared with the year-ago period. Worldwide comparable sales in the 864 stores and 39 delivery centers that have been open for more than one year improved 1 percent in the quarter but were flat for the first nine months of this year. Worldwide e-commerce sales skyrocketed 35 percent to $542.9 million in the quarter and by 36 percent to $1.5 billion in the first nine months of 2002.

Operating income in the quarter rose 41 percent from last year to $142.1 million. For the first nine months of 2002, operating income increased 44 percent to $397.8 million.

North American retail sales fell 1 percent in the quarter and stayed relatively flat in the first nine months of 2002. Comparable sales in the 832 stores open for more than one year fell 2 percent both in the quarter and the first nine months.

The company said that North American retail comparable sales results were mainly affected by a "disappointing back-to-school season and continued negative comparable sales results in furniture and technology." The average transaction size was down slightly from last year.

Sales in the Business Services Group increased 6 percent in quarter and 4 percent in the first nine months of 2002. "While catalog sales growth was slightly negative, the contract business grew almost 7 percent during the quarter," the company said in a statement.

Domestic e-commerce sales rose 34 percent in the quarter.

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