November 13, 2013, 12:17 PM

The new Office Depot appoints a chairman and CEO

Roland C. Smith comes from supermarket operator Delhaize.

Lead Photo

CEO Roland Smith

Retail chain Office Depot Inc. has appointed Roland C. Smith its first chairman and CEO since it reformed following the merger this month of OfficeMax Inc. and Office Depot Inc., the chain announced today. Co-CEOs of the previous Office Depot Neil Austrian and Ravi Saligram have both resigned from the company and its board, Office Depot says.

“Roland is uniquely qualified for the newly combined Office Depot and OfficeMax,” says Nigel Travis, board member and co-chair of the CEO selection committee. “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.”

Smith joins Office Depot from Delhaize America LLC, operator of U.S. supermarket chains including Food Lion and Hannaford, where he was CEO and president since August 2012, according to Delhaize. Prior to that, starting in 2008, he was president and CEO of fast food chain The Wendy’s Co., president and CEO of Wendy’s/Arby’s Group Inc. and CEO of Wendy’s International Inc., Office Depot says. Before becoming CEO of Wendy’s, Smith also held senior roles, including CEO, with the Arby’s brand starting in  1994.

From 2003 to 2005, he was president and CEO at the American Golf Corp. and National Golf Properties, and, from 1999 to 2003, he was CEO of AMF Bowling Worldwide Inc., according to Wendy’s. Before that, Smith also held senior management positions at KFC International, Pepsi Cola International, Schering-Plough and Procter & Gamble, and he serves on the board of Carmike Cinemas Inc., Office Depot says.

The post-merger Office Depot has combined annual sales of approximately $17 billion for the year ended Sept. 30, employs about 66,000 associates and operates more than 2,200 stores in 59 countries, along with multiple e-commerce sites, the retailer says. In 2012, Office Depot and OfficeMax together had web sales of $7.26 billion, according to estimated figures in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. By comparison, the merged company’s main rival, Staples Inc., No. 2 in that guide after Inc., generated 2012 web sales of $10.3 billion.

Based on last year’s annual web sales, Office Depot ranks No. 7 in the Top 500 and OfficeMax No. 11. The merger completed on Nov. 5.

“My focus will be on fully integrating the two companies, creating a compelling vision for the future and leveraging our infrastructure and assets to drive improved profitability and increased revenue,” Smith says. “Additionally, I fully understand that we need to make a headquarters decision quickly so that we can drive our integration efforts.”

He takes over the new job immediately.

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