Former senior executive at Staples Inc
- Trends and developments in the office supplies industry, focusing on Staples
- B2B vs B2C demand and sales volumes given WFH trends
- Profitability dynamics and cost savings opportunities
- Medium-to-long-term outlook
What is your updated perspective on the office supplies industry? What 2-3 key developments have you been watching?
How quickly has the industry been growing? What growth do you expect in 2022, 2023 and over the next 3-5 years?
You indicated players battling it out for market share, namely WB Mason, Staples, Office Depot, Amazon and the collective group of independents or smaller companies. What’s your overview of that competitive landscape? How are players positioned? What notable market share shifts have you seen or could you expect?
What are your market share estimates across the main players?
You mentioned Varis, the marketplace Office Depot is putting together, and how there probably won’t be impact from that for a few years. What are your assumptions and longer-term expectations here?
Can you elaborate on the players selling off certain businesses? What strategies are you seeing across different players to select businesses for divestment vs refocusing their business ambitions? How will that position them against each other?
What’s your view on the demand dynamics for the remaining products and services? What’s your outlook for demand drivers?
How are you thinking about the top four end-market industries that Staples delivers to? What’s the demand from those markets and how might things develop?
Remote learning or WFH has persisted at some institutions, offices and schools, but what percentage of those businesses do you expect to recover, given there is more WFH flexibility? Are those businesses, end markets and client market segments able to move up the way healthcare has, which is obviously getting more focus from the business?
What key signs or proxies would you suggest for observing the return to office or lack thereof?
Has any player got a better grasp or penetration when it comes to the WFH customer?
Is there a difference in the cost structure or the economics given the change in customer mix and shift towards healthcare vs fall off in office? How might costs differ across channels or end markets?
What is your recovery outlook for the SMB segment, which was greatly impacted by the pandemic? Are there any implications of its rebound for Staples? Does Amazon perform better here?
What’s your view on how Staples and the competitive landscape is thinking about pricing today? How are players competing on price or passing through additional cost to customers?
What is a typical contract length and any price increases built into that? How often are contracts or pricing terms negotiated?
Is there any more runway for Staples in managing OPEX? What levers can be pulled to take more money out of the business without impacting top line or profitability too much?
How should we think about Staples’ potential growth and profitability profile over the next few years?
What could be a realistically achievable margin level for Staples over the next few years?
Do you have any thoughts on paper availability in the US?
What are your thoughts on the M&A market? Is there any industry consolidation on the horizon?
How would you characterise Staples’ management and ability to execute? What moves would you question?
What might be a best- and worst-case scenario for Staples over the next 12-18 months?
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