Wall Street Journal  May 7  Comment 
Office Depot plans to close at least 400 stores in the U.S., part of a cost-cutting effort as sales continue to slide. Shares of the chain, which recently merged with OfficeMax, rose sharply in Tuesday trading.
Wall Street Journal  May 6  Comment 
Office Depot plans to close at least 400 stores in the U.S., part of a cost-cutting effort as sales continue to slide. Shares of the chain, which recently merged with OfficeMax, rose sharply in Tuesday trading.
Wall Street Journal  Feb 25  Comment 
Office Depot warned it expects its sales to decline this year, pointing to challenging trends across its product lines and integration-related moves tied to its merger with OfficeMax.
Forbes  Feb 7  Comment 
As if dead kids were not enough.  Kashmir Hill and I have been writing about OfficeMax's letter to Mike Seay, where "Daughter Killed In Car Crash" appeared in the address line of the envelope.  Today, it surfaced that Bank of American mailed a...
Forbes  Jan 30  Comment 
Mike Seay wants to know why he received a letter from OfficeMax that referred to the death of his daughter on the front of the envelope.  Why did this office supply company possess information about the car crash that killed his kid?  And how...
Forbes  Jan 22  Comment 
OfficeMax is getting a lot of press these days and it has little to do with its office supply deals. It was a little too specific in targeting one of its customers, sending a mailing to a Chicago man named Mike Seay addressed to "Daughter Killed...
Forbes  Jan 19  Comment 
The anti-whaling movement failed and failed, until it didn’t.  The movement took off when, in the late nineteen-sixties, scientists and others began to identify and record whale songs.  Hearing those ethereal noises, the song of the Humpback...
Wall Street Journal  Dec 10  Comment 
Office Depot chose its Boca Raton, Fla., campus as the company's headquarters following the completion last month of its OfficeMax buy.
TheStreet.com  Nov 6  Comment 
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Office Depot  and OfficeMax  and have completed their long-awaited merger, finalizing plans set in motion when the companies announced their intentions in February. Going forward, the combined company will trade under...
Benzinga  Nov 5  Comment 
OfficeMax® Incorporated (NYSE: OMX), a leading provider of office and facility supplies, technology and services, today announced that directors Joseph DePinto and William Montgoris informed the Company that they would not seek to be appointed to...


OfficeMax Inc. (NYSE: OMX) is the third largest office supply retailer in the United States. The company operates two main divisions: one that sells office supplies in retail stores and another that deals directly with mid-size and large businesses via contract sales. OfficeMax's $7.2 billion in total sales in 2009, a 12.8% decrease from 2008, was about equally split between the two divisions.

OfficeMax substantially trails market leaders Staples (SPLS) and Office Depot (ODP) in terms of sales, with each earning $24.3 billion[1] and $12.1 billion[2] respectively. Although OfficeMax has put an emphasis on improving its profit margins, the company still trails the much larger Staples considerably because Staples has greater economies of scale.

The sluggish economy has hurt OfficeMax's bottom line as individual consumers and businesses cut back on spending on non-essential items like office supplies. As a result, the demand for OfficeMax's products and services decreased. In 2008 and 2009, net sales fell by 9% and 12.8% respectively and the company had net losses of $1.7 billion and $2 million respectively as well.[3]

Company Overview


OfficeMax opened its first retail store in 1988 in Cleveland, Ohio. OfficeMax has two primary divisions of business -- Contract and Retail -- that provide similar services to different customers. Each segment represents about half of the company's total revenues.

  • OfficeMax Contract: OfficeMax Contract sells products and services directly to small, mid-sized and large businesses, as well as government offices. OfficeMax provides these businesses with office supplies and paper, technology products and solutions, office furniture and print and document services. The company operates 44 distribution centers worldwide.[5]
  • Office Max Retail: OfficeMax operates 1,010 retail stores in the United States and Mexico.[5] These stores sell the same products as the Contract division but are directed at consumers and small businesses. hello

Business Growth

FY 2009 (ended December 26, 2009)[3]

  • Net sales fell 12.8% to $7.2 billion due to decreased demand from the sluggish economy which negatively impacted all product categories and geographic areas in both the Contract and Retail segments -- Contract growth was -15.2% and Retail growth was -10.2%.
  • The company improved to a net loss of $2 million for the year compared to a net loss of $1.7 billion in 2008.

Trends and Forces

General Economic Forces

Domestically, the demand for office products is correlated with many different measures--white collar employment, small business spending, and national GDP--which are all indicators of the overall health of the macro-economy. In a sluggish economy, consumers and businesses cut back on spending to save money and tend to purchase fewer supplies, hurting the demand for OfficeMax's products. A high white-collar unemployment rate also decreases the demand for office supplies. As a result of the economic pressure, OfficeMax's bottom line has felt the effects. In 2008 and 2009, net sales fell by 9% and 12.8% respectively and the company had net losses of $1.7 billion and $2 million respectively as well.[3]

Unlike some of its other competitors, like Staples (SPLS), OfficeMax doesn't have a particularly strong international presence to hedge the domestic economic pressures. The company only has 13 out of its 44 Contract distribution centers outside of North America and only 77 of the company's 1,010 retail stores are located outside of the United States (the rest are located in Mexico).


OfficeMax has struggled to keep up with its two main competitors, Staples (SPLS) and Office Depot (ODP).

Staples is currently the faraway industry leader with sales and profits substantially above both OfficeMax and Office Depot. Their higher operating margin can be attributed to Staples' higher productivity, efficiency and use of private label products. Also Staples is a much larger company than both Office Depot and OfficeMax -- in terms of stores and total revenue -- and thus has greater economies of scale in terms of purchasing power.


  1. SPLS 2009 10-K pg. A-1
  2. ODP 2009 10-K pg. 22
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 OMX 2009 10-K pg. 16
  4. OMX 2009 10-K pg. 2-3
  5. 5.0 5.1 OMX 2009 10-K pg. 11-12
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