Turnaround Specialist Smith Replaces Office Depot’s Co-CEOs

Nov 13, 2013 1:42 PM  By

OfficeMax-Office Depot mergerThe Office Depot-OfficeMax merger comes with a new leader: Turnaround specialist Roland Smith was named chairman and CEO of Office Depot Inc. on Nov. 12, effective immediately, and replaces Office Depot’s Neil Austrian and OfficeMax’s Ravi Saligram, who were named co-CEOs of the merged company just last week.

Smith comes to Office Depot Inc. with a strong retail track record of increasing operating profit, managing complex integrations, directing corporate turnarounds, and transforming companies for future success, according to a press release.

Most recently, Smith was the president and CEO of Delhaize America, LLC, which owns supermarket chains including Food Lion and Hannaford. Before that, Smith was president and CEO of The Wendy’s Company; president and CEO of Wendy’s/Arby’s Group, Inc.; and CEO of Wendy’s International, Inc., and was charged with completing the acquisition and merger of Wendy’s by Arby’s.

Smith also led operational turnarounds at American Golf Corporation, the world’s largest owner and operator of golf courses, and AMF, the world’s largest owner and operator of bowling centers.

Smith was chosen by a selection committee that looked at more than 100 candidates, according to the press release.

Both Austrian and Saligram, who had served as CEOs of their respective companies before the merger was made official, have resigned from the new company and stepped down from the new company’s board.

Office Depot and OfficeMax released their individual third-quarter financial results on Nov. 5, before the merger was made official. Office Depot’s 3Q sales were down 3.4% compared to the same period as last year, while OfficeMax’s sales fell 3%.

Neither company broke down direct-to-customer sales, but Office Depot did say in its release that online sales increased in the quarter and sales through our catalog and call center operations continued to decline.