Staples to Buy French Office Supplies Cataloger

To forge a presence in France, Spain, Italy, and Belgium, as well as penetrate deeper in to the U.K., office superstore retailer/cataloger Staples agreed on Aug. 22 to buy Guilbert, an office supplies cataloger located just outside of Paris, from Paris-based Pinault-Printemps-Redoute Group (PPR) for approximately $810 million (U.S.). The deal is expected to close in the fall.

Staples president/CEO Ron Sargent’s key strategic growth platform includes expanding the company’s European catalog business beyond its existing U.K. business. The planned acquisition, which only includes the Guilbert mail order unit that services small business (Guilbert also has a larger contract business), will be overseen by Staples. The company’s Quill catalog business only operates in the U.S.

“We have been looking for different ways to grow the business topline as part of Ron Sargent’s plan,” says Staples spokesperson Deborah Hohler. “Our July acquisition of [medical-related products cataloger] Medical Arts Press was part of our vertical strategy to build our delivery business. We find Europe to be a major growth platform for us—it’s the second largest office supplies market to the U.S.”

The Framingham, MA-based Staples plans to not only grow and expand the Guilbert business in Europe, but to also leverage Guilbert’s purchasing power in Europe. “We’ll look at Guilbert’s purchasing practices,” Hohler says, “and it will add some nice volume purchasing for us to get better product pricing. In the long run, it could possibly help us worldwide as well. But that all depends, because different countries have different product needs.” She adds that Staples has no plans to make immediate changes in the Guilbert brand—including any kind of name change.

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