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Staples global boss, Ron Sargent, departs

Staples global boss, Ron Sargent, departs

Mid-market focus and European sell off top of list for new CEO when appointed

Global reseller and solutions provider, Staples, has parted company with its CEO, Ron Sargent, following a “mutual agreement” with the company’s top executive.

The change will come into effect after the company’s annual meeting of shareholders on June 14, at which time Shira Goodman, Staples’ current president of North American operations will become interim CEO.

At the meeting, Sargent faces a shareholder vote to see if he will continue to serve as a director and non-executive chairman through the company’s 2016 fiscal year ending on January 28, 2017.

Ron Sargent presenting an award to the winner of the youth ventures "That Was Easy" competition the company sponsored in 2007.
Ron Sargent presenting an award to the winner of the youth ventures "That Was Easy" competition the company sponsored in 2007.

The company will appoint a special committee to conduct a search for a permanent replacement, which will consider both internal and external candidates with the support of an executive search firm.

In discussing plans for the interim role, Goodman said, she was confident the company could achieve its objectives through a focus on the mid-market and product by intensifying its focus on "best growth opportunities with mid-market business customers in North America and in key categories beyond office supplies.”

Local Implications

Staples Technology Solutions Australia general manager, Karl Sice, said the focus of the new CEO, once appointed, would be on a business restructure that would likely involve selling of the company’s European operations.

“It depends on who the ultimately choose,” he explained. “The board traditionally at times like this has tended to look outside as well as inside.”

Karl Sice - Staples Australia
Karl Sice - Staples Australia

Just after the judge’s decision [to block Staples’ buyout of Office Depot], one of the things that Ron [Sargent] said publicly was the business was looking at a number of strategic options, including what it would do with the European business.

“I am guessing that if you were to get someone in from outside, those type of conversations would become more commonplace.

Sice said that the new chief would most likely have such an endeavour high on their list of priorities after assuming the new role.

He added that the person would be aware of the organisation’s capacity to make the kind of play that OfficeMax was and would likely consider which lines of business the company would look to grow.

“I see the technology business as one of the highest growth areas,” he added.

The company has a total of five lines of business beyond office supplies, technology and facilities are two of the largest of those five.

Sice went on to say that this was one of the key growth areas for the company both globally and locally.

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“The fact that we have only just started ramping up some of the work that we are doing and some of the workloads that we are now involved in tells you how much market opportunity there is.

Sice echoed Goodman’s sentiment that the mid-market was a key target area for the reseller.

“The middle market was never a major focus for the company way back. Over the last few years it has gone from basically a zero head count to 150 dedicated sales personnel.

Staples total sales headcount in Australia is 650 people across all lines of business, mid-market sales accounts for close to a third of total sales staff locally.

“Quite frankly, we are chasing what should have been probably a focus for the business quite a few years ago.”


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