News Feature | May 9, 2017

Staples Acquisition Pondered By Private Equity Firms

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer


Amid talks of sales, Staples is rebranding to focus on business contracts operations.

Private equity firms Cerberus Capital Management LP and Sycamore Partners are each eyeing an acquisition of Staples, unnamed sources told Reuters , though Staples has declined to comment on rumors of a sale. Innovative Retail Technologies reported last month that the office supply retailer was investigating possibilities for sale while also announcing plans to shutter some 70 stores nationwide.

The report also notes that other potential buyers, including Clayton Dubilier & Rice LLC, Advent International Corp and previously owner Bain Capital LLC, have become skeptical of the struggling office supplies retailer’s prospects in a tough retail environment.  Options for sale became limited after the failed $6.3 billion merger with rival Office Depot last year. Since the failed merger, Staples began consciously addressing changing consumer habits by shifting focus to small businesses.

According to the anonymous sources, Staples is continuing to pursue sale options, though a deal with either Cerberus or Sycamore Partners is not guaranteed. All of the involved parties declined to comment, Reuters said.

Amid the talks of sales, however, Staples is launching a concerted rebranding effort that emphasizes its business contracts operations, the most lucrative side of its business, according to Bloomberg. While Staples maintains the largest market share of office supply stores in the U.S. at 48 percent, and has increased its share since 2011 according to Euromonitor, it still faces growing competition from online suppliers like Amazon that cause some concern for potential investors.

The new ad campaign focuses on a whole new image. Frank Bifulco, Staples Chief Marketing Officer, told Bloomberg, “We wanted to tell a new Staples story. It’s going to convey to all audiences that Staples is much more than a retail office-supply company.”