If this buyout goes through, & my guess is that there’s not much stopping it now, you’re going to have an interesting couple years ahead of you whether you work for CE or Staples. Here's my prediction:
For the Staples folks, you’re on the better half of the deal. Retail will not change at all at least in the short term. Whether you’re happy or not now, you’ll probably continue to maintain that position for the next year at least.
If you are a SPLS sales rep, you’ll probably be safe unless you’re a real dolt. Remember that reps at OMX & Depot are being told right now that this is a golden opportunity to steal customers & told to focus on any mistakes or difficulties the CE or Staples reps make.
If you’re a delivery driver for CE, that will likely be one of the first things SPLS will trim. For the CE folks in sales offices, DC's, customer service centers, & HQ, you’re going to be told what to do regarding the “Merger” over the next week or two. They’ll say: “Don’t panic, everyone still has their jobs. Everyone here is a valued employee who has the opportunity to see our company enter into exciting times. You’ll be instructed not to contact Staples stores, facilities or employees. This will really be drilled into you until the merger is final. The word “Synergy” will be used a lot because it sounds good. Get used to the fact that synergy is synonymous for layoffs or “RIF.”
For the first 6 months, things will seem hectic but they’ll spin it as “Exciting Times” & tell you how you’re going to have “Unlimited Opportunities” & how you’ll be part of the “World Leader” in office products. During the first couple months, you’ll have informal meetings with SPLS management from your closest Staples neighbors. The management teams will probably come to your office accompanied by a region VP & a HR person. They will do everything possible to assure you that they value the CE talent & that nobody should be worried. The biggest concern will be retaining customers. Staples is not buying infrastructure. They could care less about DC’s, CS, HR, IT, financials, systems, trucks or real estate. Staples is buying a list of customers.
Call centers require lot’s of infrastructure so my guess is any CE call centers would be closed & the service moved to existing Staples call centers. Information Technology will be fun if you’re a Staples person. The need to convert customers over to Staples systems will be tremendous.
If you really want to be a part of this, be open to the idea of relocating. One thing you may want to look at is the local retail stores. Retail sucks, but not having a job sucks more. (Some may debate me on that.) You’ll find yourself reminiscing about the “good old CE days.”
For those who remain & for the new Staples in general, I think it’s going to be great after year 3. Staples will dominate the industry & be servicing most of the F 500 while retaining a huge retail presence. OMX & ODP will keep some loyal customers but primarily be forced to service middle & small market. My prediction is that Depot will make some comeback by marketing itself as the “Green” supplier in an effort to distinguish itself. OMX will probably return to it’s Boise roots a bit & offer itself as the better “overall value” supplier with slightly better customer service & more specialization for the customer. I also see OMX being better in vertical markets such as hospital, janitorial & facilities supplies. You may expect to see their product line & stores geared more toward female shoppers & a broader ethnic customer base. I expect Depot to be stronger than OMX or Staples in Tech & OMX to be better in Furniture.
Keep in mind is that even if you get cut, it’s not the end of the world. It will seem really tragic at the time, but most people who get cut will end up better off. It’s so much more fun on the outside. After all, it’s just office products!
Great Post. One key point to add in to the mix on successful integration. Staples is a profitable company. If they don't make a profit on a customer they have walked away, even from large national contracts. The Corporate Express US office supply division has not made a profit in years. Their parent company has blamed this division for it's poor performance for the last several years. It will be interesting to see if Staples can keep the business they just bought and make a profit or will the business tank Staples profit margins like it did the previous owners.
Great Post. One key point to add in to the mix on successful integratiuon. Staples is a profitable company. If they don't make a profit on a customer they have walked away, even from large national contracts. The Corporate Express US office supply division has not made a profit in years. Their parent company has blamed this division for it's poor performance for the last several years. It will be interesting to see if Staples can keep the business they just bought and make a profit or will the business tank Staples profit margins like it did the previous owners.
Having been through a Staples merger I can say this is a good post, I will add my prediction that the CE outside sales force will quickly be evaluated and the those considered performing in the bottom 10 - 20% will be at risk very quickly. Those in areas with significant Staples outside sales force (SBA - SNA Type)will also be at risk. Look back at the Boise/O-Max Merger "Sales Forces reduction", was poorly executed, I venture Staples will do a better job retaining the top producers.
Good post. The deal is done, there is nothing stopping it. The CE stockholders and execs got a premium on the stock and that is all that matters.You are exactly right, the only thing Staples cares about is the book of business they just bought, especially the big strategic accounts. Unfortunately for many former CE employees such as the drivers, cross-dock personnel, customer service reps, underperforming salespeople, and managers will be losing their jobs. But then again, that might not be a bad thing.
We'll see how big and strong Staples really is after this merger is complete. It didn't work for Corporate Express' former mergers, it hasn't worked for OMX / Boise Cascade, and it hasn't worked for Depot and their acquisitions. There are going to be alot of customers lost during this transition, especially the mid-market and smaller accounts who depend on service. This is Staples' biggest one ever and we'll see what the integration team can come up with. My guess is that it won't be "Easy", but it won't matter as long as the large strategic accounts are locked in with multi-contracts during the next few years.