The Wall Street Journal has today reported that Staples Inc and Office Depot Inc are in merge talks. The details remain somewhat of a mystery for the moment. Office Depot already merged with OfficeMax in 2013, meaning if this currently proposed joining of ventures goes ahead, the new company will begin its future with projected sales of $35 billion. Interestingly, talks for the very same merger took place in the 1990’s but in 1997, antitrust regulators put a stop to it.
The retail and office supply landscapes are considerably different 18 years on however. Should the businesses merge, the same regulators could not have the same concerns about possible monopolisation of the market. Customers have a far wider breadth of choice and make well-informed decisions when shopping. Amazon is likely to be the main competitor. Its online shopping system is more user-friendly than Staples’ whereas Office Depot still maintains a rather archaic direct sales system with orders being placed over the phone or email. Before these merger talks, Staples announced that it was to add Google Executive Paul-Henri Farrand to its board to help develop online presence.
No date has yet been set for the possible merger.