The office-supplies industry comprises retailers such as Staples and Office Depot/Max, selling a range of paper; miscellaneous office supplies (binders, folders, pens & pencils, breakroom supplies); office furniture; copy machines; and computers and printers. Retailers have also begun focusing on other product categories, such as breakroom and medical supplies, while others are focusing on technology services, such as cloud storage. Office supply companies also continue to focus on their contract businesses (selling directly to businesses), which have been performing better than their retail channels.
Great American has liquidated hundreds of stores within this industry and appraised a number of major retailers within the sector. We’ll look at the ratio of online versus in-store sales, the composition of a company’s contract business, and the level of slow-moving merchandise, to gain a complete picture of inventory value.
The office supplies industry has seen significant consolidation in recent years as consumers shift their purchasing habits. Sales of paper and traditional office supplies sales have declined as more people move to digital. In 2013, Office Depot and OfficeMax merged in an attempt to compete with Staples, discount stores, supercenters, warehouse clubs and online retailers that have been slowly gaining market share. In 2015, Staples tried to acquire Office Depot/Max, but the acquisition was blocked by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Both Staples and Office Depot/Max have been forced to close hundreds of stores in recent years to right size their store bases, and have also been reducing the square footage of remaining stores.