Staples Inc. has a new CEO.
The retail chain has hired J. Alexander Douglas, a 30-year veteran of The Coca-Cola Co., as chief executive officer. He starts April 2. He replaces current CEO Shira Goodman, who is stepping down from her position, effective Friday. Staples gave no reason for her departure. John Lederer, executive chairman of Staples and its separate U.S. and Canadian retail businesses, will lead the company’s day-to-day operations during the interim.
The executive change comes only a few months after Sycamore Partners paid $6.9 billion to acquire Staples, No. 5 in the Internet Retailer Top 1000 and No. 22 in the B2B 300. Staples is currently in the midst of restructuring its business units.
In its run-up to the Sycamore Partners acquisition, Staples said it would separate from its retail chain and operate primarily as a seller of office supplies and other products to businesses, according to a financial statement filed August 10 in relation to its pending acquisition by the investment firm. The new Staples will consist of the North American Delivery unit, including StaplesAdvantage.com, Quill.com and Staples.com.
The plan to separate Staples’ B2B operations from its retail businesses coincided with statements the office supplies company made in the 12 months preceding the Sycamore acquisition. Goodman referred to the Staples Business Advantage unit as the “growth engine of our company.”
In addition, Staples is expanding beyond its traditional line of office supplies like paper and ink to include office furniture, janitorial and work-safety supplies, breakroom products, promotional items imprinted with business customers’ logos, and a wider range of office technology products and related services.
Goodman was named interim CEO in June 2016. She was officially named president and CEO in September 2016. She had worked for Staples in other positions since 1992.
Douglas joins Staples from Coca-Cola, where he is executive vice president. He has also served as president of Coca-Cola North America, leading a $10 billion business encompassing B2B and retail operations.
Staples is the largest office supplies retail chain in North America; however, its web sales and overall sales have been sliding. Web sales totaled $9.70 billion in 2016, down 9.35% from 2015, according to Internet Retailer’s Top500Guide.com. Last July, when Staples last reported earnings before going private, total sales in the quarter were down 3.1%.
E-retailers in the office supplies category have struggled to grow in recent years. As of 2016, the five-year compound annual growth rate for such retailers was -6.8%, according to industry benchmark data from Internet Retailer.Favorite