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Office Depot is one of the world's largest office supply retail store chains, with over 1,000 stores worldwide in 23 countries. It also has strong catalog and e-commerce operations catering to both the general public and to large corporate clients. It is headquartered in Delray Beach, Florida.
Office Depot was founded in Lauderdale Lakes, Florida (near Fort Lauderdale) in 1986 by three partners: Pat Sher, Stephen Dougherty, and Jack Kopkin. Sher, the company's first CEO, died the next year from leukemia. The company retained professional executive recruiters (so-called "headhunters") to find a replacement for Sher. The new Chairman and CEO turned out to be a Sherman-Williams executive named David Fuente.
At first reluctant to take the job, Fuente embraced the concept of an office products superstore and immediately launched an aggressive nationwide expansion program. To finance it, he arranged for an initial public offering of stock in 1988. In 1991, Office Depot expanded to the West Coast region with the purchase of competitor Office Club. By 1993, it was operating over 350 stores in the U.S. and Canada.
The company began to run into problems in the late 1990s when many key North American markets became saturated with too many of the big three office supply chains: Office Depot, OfficeMax, and Staples. In 1996, Office Depot attempted to merge with Staples, but the deal fell through when the Federal Trade Commission refused to approve the merger on antitrust grounds. In search of new opportunities, Office Depot began to expand overseas to many more countries. In 1998, it launched its public Web site and merged with the catalog company Viking Office Products.
Unfortunately, during the dot-com collapse in late 2000, the company's sales took a dive. Over 70 stores were closed and Fuente was reportedly forced out of his job as CEO; he was replaced by the head of the company's international operations, Bruce Nelson. On October 4, 2004, Office Depot announced that Neil R. Austrian , former President of the National Football League, was succeeding Nelson as Interim Chairman and CEO.
Office Depot Center
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