3Q sales up at Office Depot, down at Viking

Office supplies superstore Office Depot (NYSE: ODP), which also mails the Viking Office Products catalog, reported a 4% rise in third-quarter company sales, to $2.9 billion for the three months ended Sept. 28. Worldwide Web sales grew 35%, to $542.9 million. North American retail sales declined 1%, to $1.46 billion.

Sales in its business services group, which includes Viking Office Products, increased 6%, to $1.0 billion from $947.2 million last year. While catalog sales slipped slightly, according to a statement, Office Depot’s contract business grew almost 7% during the quarter. Another bright spot for the company: International sales grew 17%, to $407.4 million.

The company also offered guidance for the fourth quarter. “Our assumptions for the quarter look for gradual revenue acceleration in our North American delivery business, somewhat softer growth rates in our international business than in the third quarter, and flat to slightly positive comps in our North American retail business,” chairman/CEO Bruce Nelson said in a statement. As for the bottom line, “We do expect some pressure on fourth-quarter operating margins, as we increase the mix of technology sales in retail and 4Sure.com, activate additional sales force hiring deferred from the third quarter, and manage the ongoing pressure on sales and margins in our Viking domestic mail order operations.”

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