February 26, 2008, 12:00 AM

The Internet powers sales for Office Depot in an otherwise flat 2007

It was the Internet that provided the engine for sales growth at Office Depot Inc. in 2007. Web sales grew by 14%, while overall revenue increased just 3.4% and net earnings dropped by 21.4%.

It was the Internet that provided the engine for sales growth at Office Depot Inc. in 2007.

For the year, web sales grew $600 million, or 14%, to $4.9 billion from $4.3 billion in 2006. At the same time, total revenue for the company, No. 3 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, grew $510 million, or 3.4%, to $15.52 billion from $15.01 billion a year earlier.

Office Depot reported a 21.4% decline in net earnings to $395.6 million from $503.4 million a year earlier. Office Depot didn’t break out a 2007 number for comparable store sales, but comparable store sales in the fourth quarter declined by 7%, the company says.

In the fourth quarter Office Depot posted net earnings of $18.8 million on sales of $3.86 billion, compared with net earnings of $126.6 million on revenue of $3.84 billion in Q4 2006. Net earnings dropped 85.2% while revenue grew by 0.52%.

The company also announced the departure of two top executives. Kim Maguire, executive vice president, merchandising, is leaving Office Depot for personal reasons, while chief financial officer Patricia A. McKay has resigned and will be replaced on an interim basis by international division president Charles E. Brown, the company says.

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