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OfficeMax taps Walmart exec for new role


NAPERVILLE, Ill. -- Former Walmart merchandising and store operations executive Michael Lewis was named EVP and president of retail at OfficeMax. Lewis will report to OfficeMax president and CEO Ravi Saligram and have responsibility for all aspects of the company’s retail business including merchandising, store operations and real estate.

“Michael brings a dynamic blend of leadership, retail expertise and disciplined execution to OfficeMax,” Saligram said. “His operational know-how and superb track record of driving profitable growth in tough retail environments will enhance the customer experience and improve store productivity. Michael will be an integral part of our efforts to differentiate the OfficeMax brand through innovation and unique customer insights.”

Lewis will join OfficeMax effective May 2 after spending the past seven years at Walmart. Most recently, he was a senior VP in Walmart’s merchandising organization where he led the global merchandising center for packaged grocery products that was created in early 2010 as part of a broader restructuring at Walmart. Prior to that role, Lewis served in an operations capacity for five years and oversaw Walmart’s Midwest division, which consisted of more than 850 stores. Prior to Walmart, Lewis spent two years with food wholesaler Nash Finch where he served as president of the retail division.

“The opportunity to be a part of the OfficeMax leadership team and continue to help build a customer-driven retail environment is very exciting,” Lewis said. “OfficeMax is a leader in product and design innovation, and I look forward to working with the team to capitalize on those strengths and establish a retail organization that drives profitable, sustainable growth.”

Lewis joins OfficeMax as the company is enjoying a modest rebound after several years of coping with a challenging business climate and executing a turnaround strategy. The company ended last year with total sales of $7.1 billion, about half of which was generated by a 997 store retail division that consists of 918 units in the United States and 79 units in Mexico.

OfficeMax investors may hear more about, or possibly from, Lewis next week as the company is scheduled to report results for its first quarter ended March 26 on April 28.

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