March 9, 2017

Staples loses $615M, to close 70 stores

Grant Welker
Staples headquarters in Framingham. The company plans to close around 70 North American stores this year, it announced Thursday.

Framingham office retailer Staples said Thursday it plans to close about 70 stores in North America this year after reporting a net loss of $615 million for 2016.

The office supply chain has struggled in recent years, and last December sold its European division at a $117-million loss. That came about six months after the company's planned $6-billion merger with rival Office Depot fell apart.

Staples had closed 345 stores since 2011, or nearly one-fifth of all its locations. That includes 48 that closed last year. It has more than 1,500 North American stores now.

At the same time, the company has looked to redefine itself beyond supplies. Last year, Staples opened three co-working spaces in Massachusetts in a partnership with Boston-based Workbar, with conference space, private rooms for phone calls, printers and wireless internet. Monthly membership to use the spaces is $130.

Year-to-year sales fell by nearly 3 percent to just over $18 billion, the company said in its earnings report Thursday. Sales for the fourth quarter were $4.6 billion, with North American sales falling by 8 percent.

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