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New York -- Office Depot Inc. — the new entity created by the merger of Office Depot and OfficeMax — named Roland Smith as CEO, effective immediately. Smith, 59, most recently served as CEO of Delhaize American, a division of Belgian grocery giant Delhaize Group. Prior to that, he was president and CEO of The Wendy's Co., holding company for the Wendy's chain.
Smith’s appointment comes a week after Office Depot closed its $1.2 billion merger with OfficeMax. In conjunction with his appointment, the two CEOs of Office Depot and OfficeMax, Neil Austrian and Ravi Saligram respectively, who were serving as co-CEOs of the combined company, both resigned.
Smith comes to Office Depot "with a strong retail track record of increasing operating profit, managing complex integrations, directing corporate turnarounds and transforming companies for future success," the company said in a statement.
Smith has acquired a reputation as a turnaround expert He joined Arby's in 1994 and was named CEO in 1997. From 1996 to 1998, the chain nearly tripled its operating profit and improved same-store sales.
He then moved on to AMF Bowling Worldwide Inc., where he took the company into and out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy and reduced debt by two-thirds. He next ran American Golf, where he increased revenue. In 2006, he returned to Arby's, where he helped oversee its merger with Wendy's.
“I know that numerous cross-company teams have worked diligently over the past eight months to create a clear blueprint for the integration of Office Depot and OfficeMax," Smith said. "Moving forward, my focus will be on fully integrating the two companies, achieving the planned synergies, creating a compelling vision for the future, and leveraging our infrastructure and assets to drive improved profitability and increased revenue. Additionally, I fully understand that we need to make a headquarters decision quickly so that we can drive our integration efforts.”
Smith said the companies' combined resources have the ability to transform the merged company to "provide new opportunities for our global associates, become a more appealing partner to our vendors and increase value for our shareholders."
Nigel Travis, Office Depot’s lead director, co-chair of the CEO selection committee and chairman and CEO of Dunkin’ Brands, said he Selection Committee spent several months evaluating more than 100 candidates.
“Roland is uniquely qualified for the newly combined Office Depot and OfficeMax,” Travis said. “He has decades of experience integrating companies and cultures and an impressive track record in turning around businesses. Additionally, he brings outstanding leadership that will be invaluable as we seek to transform and grow our new company.”