The long-drawn out battle over the merger of Staples and Office Depot has claimed its first victim.
Staples chairman and CEO Ron Sargent will step down after the chain’s annual shareholders meeting on June 14. His exit comes just weeks after a federal judge struck down Staples’ proposed acquisition of rival Office Depot.
Shira Goodman, Staples’ president, North America operations, will serve as interim CEO upon Sargent’s departure. A special committee will conduct a search for a permanent replacement with the assistance of an outside firm.
“With the termination of the merger, we mutually agreed that now is the right time to transition to new management to lead Staples through its next phase of growth,” said Robert E. Sulentic, independent lead director of the Staples board of directors. “Shira has tremendous experience and a long track record of success at Staples, always bringing fresh perspective and change to every role she has had.”
Sargent, who will continue to serve as a director and non-executive chairman through Staples’ 2016 fiscal year (ending January 28, 2017), was elected chairman of the company in 2005. He was named CEO in 2002, and has held a variety of leadership roles in the company. He was appointed president and COO in 1998, leading Staples' worldwide operations, retail superstores, delivery business, supply chain management and merchandising and marketing initiatives.
In 1991 he was responsible for launching Staples' delivery business. Sargent began his career at Staples in 1989 as regional VO, leading the company's market entry in Ohio.
“The entire board would like to thank Ron for his nearly three decades of dedicated service and leadership at Staples,” Sulentic said. “Under Ron, Staples made consistent advancements that ensured and extended the company’s market leadership in the office products sector. Most notably he drove the growth of the commercial contract business, which is central to Staples’ go-forward strategy. He also worked diligently on the acquisition of Office Depot and the board appreciates the strong effort he made to secure governmental approval.”