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Staples to Shut 140 North America Stores in 2014 as Sales Stall

Aug. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Staples Inc. plans to shut about 140 stores in North America this year as the office-supply retailer responds to online competition that has hurt sales.

Staples shut 80 outlets in the region in the first half, the Framingham, Massachusetts-based company said in a statement today. Net income in the fiscal second quarter through Aug. 2 dropped 20 percent to $82 million as Staples spent $101 million on the sales-network cutback.

Expansion by web-based competitors such as Amazon.com Inc. has spurred reorganizations across the retail industry, including the merger of stationery suppliers Office Depot Inc. with OfficeMax Inc. Staples outlined plans in March to shut as many as 225 stores in North America through 2015, amounting to 12 percent of its outlets in the region, and to reduce costs by as much as $500 million.

“We have more work to do to stabilize our retail business, and we’re taking action to improve customer traffic, reduce expenses and close underperforming stores,” Chief Executive Officer Ron Sargent said in today’s statement.

Second-quarter revenue fell 1.8 percent to $5.22 billion, reduced in part by earlier shutdowns of outlets and currency effects, Staples said. North American online revenue increased 8 percent. Annualized cost savings so far this fiscal year totaled $150 million.

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