INK CARTRIDGES:STAPLES #1 PRODUCT !
INK CARTRIDGES:STAPLES #1 PRODUCT !
2006-05-30 at 10:00:00 am #15589
STAPLES 20-year high
Staples celebrates two decades with historic remote opening of Nasdaq
FRAMINGHAM- Staples Inc. made it look easy yesterday, marking its 20th anniversary with a remote opening of the Nasdaq Stock Market, a polished, festive event for a $16 billion company rooted in paper clips and ink cartridges.Staples, the world’s largest office products superstore, is the first Northeast company to remotely open the electronic stock market, and Nasdaq President and Chief Executive Officer Robert Greifeld was on hand to mark the occasion, along with hundreds of Staples employees – including some who trace their history to the company’s first store in Brighton in 1986.Staples President and Chief Executive Officer Ronald L. Sargent, joined on the podium by more than two dozen longtime employees, opened Nasdaq trading by signing an electronic screen and pushing a button, an event broadcast live by CNBC and on Nasdaq’s 96-screen video wall at 4 Times Square in New York City, and across its seven-story video tower in the square.A few minutes before the 9:30 a.m. event, Nasdaq officials cued their theme music and urged the more than 300 employees lining the floor and stairs in Staples’ lobby to turn off their cell phones. Four cameras were trained on the event, and both Mr. Sargent and Mr. Greifeld spoke about the company’s history as the minutes ticked down.The prepared remarks ended at 9:29 a.m. and Staples’ employees, wearing commemorative red sweatshirts, clapped for the next 90 seconds as Mr. Sargent used an electronic pen to put his signature across a screen inside the podium.Pens and paper have been at the forefront of Staples’ success, a retailer that grew profitable by making it easy for other businesses to purchase supplies, business machines, technology and services.Founded by former supermarket executive Thomas G. Stemberg, Staples had an untested but appealing concept when Mr. Sargent came aboard in 1989, the same year the company went public on the Nasdaq.“A lot of these people had no idea what they were getting into,” Mr. Sargent said. “I certainly got lucky buying into Tom’s vision.”While being recruited by Mr. Stemberg, Mr. Sargent said he was told the company might top $1 billion in sales, a forecast he cut by 50 percent when discussing with his wife whether to relocate from Ohio to Massachusetts.“I was at a $25 billion company in my hometown and thinking about coming to this little startup,” he said with a laugh. “It took us a while to kind of sort through it.”Early investors in Staples have been well rewarded, as the company has had eight, 3-for-2 stock splits. A dollar invested in Staples in 1989 would now be worth $32.James K. Shea of Franklin, a divisional program sales manager, recalled being somewhat skeptical when he interviewed for a job with Mr. Stemberg in 1987.A retailer selling office products to small businesses wasn’t something that initially sounded like a successful business plan, he said.“I kept saying to myself, ‘Who was going to walk into a supermarket and buy paper clips?’ ” Mr. Shea said.His interview was conducted at Staples’ headquarters, which at the time was in a former King’s Department Store in Newton. Mr. Stemberg greeted Mr. Shea in an office that featured an old metal desk and two orange plastic chairs.“He said he wanted to show investors that all of the money was being poured into the stores,” Mr. Shea said.Those stores now total more than 1,700, a sales channel that will likely flatten out over the next eight years, Mr. Sargent said in an interview.Sales from the company’s delivery services to homes and businesses will likely surpass retail sales by 2013. Internet sales allow the company to service every ZIP code in the country, something that’s not possible through traditional retail stores.Ink cartridges remain Staples’ No. 1 product and it has done well by offering products associated with personal computers and laptops. Digital cameras were a hot seller for several years, but that market has started to become saturated. Wireless communication equipment is a growing part of Staples’ product sales and it has recently launched its own branded paper shredder.For the first quarter ended April 29, Staples reported net income of $186.1 million, or 25 cents per share, up from $147.1 million, or 20 cents per share, for the same period a year earlier.Mr. Sargent said the company does a good job selecting products, but there have been a few items that didn’t meet expectations. Razer scooters were heavily promoted but turned out to be something Staples customers didn’t find appealing. In the early days of the company, a globe had to be discontinued after it was noticed the names of some cities in the United States were misspelled, he said.The rising cost of paper has been passed on to Staples’ customers twice this year but to date, the company has not had to implement any fuel surcharges, Mr. Sargent said. Sales rose 9 percent in the most recent quarter, to $4.2 billion, as business customers stepped up demand for printing services, he said.Mr. Greifeld said Staples is the epitome of a Nasdaq company, an innovative business launched by savvy entrepreneurs“They’re simpatico with our approach to stock trading,” Mr. Greifeld said. “We revolutionized trading with our electronic approach and Staples has revolutionized the office products market.”The Nasdaq listing has also been good for Staples, Mr. Sargent said.“We think it fits our image,” he said. “We’re looking at fast-growing entrepreneurs. That’s our customer.”Staples shares lost 10 cents, to close at $23.85, yesterday on the Nasdaq.