Staples Sales Dip 2 Percent in Unit Covering Catalog, Web

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Office supply retailer Staples reported yesterday that sales for the business unit that includes its catalog and Staples.com divisions were down 2 percent for its fiscal fourth-quarter 2001, which ended Feb. 2.


However, the company said it achieved an overall income of $94 million in the period, despite falling retail sales, due to cost-cutting measures. Excluding restructuring charges stemming from the closing of 31 retail stores, the company made a profit of $136 million in the period.


The company's North American Delivery unit consists of Staples Contract, Quill and Staples Business Delivery, which includes Staples catalogs and Staples.com. The unit had fourth-quarter sales of $765 million, slightly down from the same period in the previous fiscal year. But the Staples Business Delivery segment is the fastest growing in the business unit and is showing improvement in operating margins, the company said.


"Improvement achieved in operating margins will allow us to invest in new ideas for future growth," said Ronald L. Sargent, Staples CEO. "We are confident that the plans we have in place have positioned Staples for continued industry-leading profitable growth without depending on an economic recovery."


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