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Staples New Corporate Center to Provide On-Site Child Care
BW0113  JUL 22,1998       6:30  PACIFIC      09:30  EASTERN
BW1255  JUL 13,1998       7:03  PACIFIC      10:03  EASTERN

( BW)(STAPLES)(SPLS) Staples New Corporate Center to Provide On-Site Child Care

    Business Editors

    WESTBOROUGH, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--July 13, 1998--With companies working to accommodate changing employee needs in today's fast-paced economy, Staples, Inc. announced today that it will build and maintain a state-of-the-art child care center located across from its new corporate center in Framingham, Mass.
    The child care center will be the cornerstone of an initiative that focuses on work-life issues for Staples employees. Only a handful of both Massachusetts companies and retailers nationwide currently offer on-site child care. But Staples and a small number of other companies are quickly taking steps to meet the needs of their employees and achieve the competitive advantages of innovative work-life initiatives.
    "Staples is committed to becoming an employer of choice nationwide," said Thomas G. Stemberg, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Staples. "We have been growing at over 30 percent a year, and we have very aggressive growth plans for the future. Therefore, we need to attract and retain the best employees, from store operations to information systems and marketing. These work-life programs, and particularly our new child care center, will help make Staples an even greater place to work."
    The center will have space for 100 children ages 6 weeks to 6 years old and will support five spots for the children of welfare-to-work parents employed by Staples. The company will pay for the construction and upkeep of the center, so the rates for employees will be competitive. Although Staples expects the child care center to be fully subscribed, any spaces that remain open after being offered to company employees will be available to the local community.
    The center is scheduled to open in spring 1999 and will be run by Bright Horizons, a child care organization that is gaining national recognition for its innovative child development and education programs, cutting edge design and first-rate management. Bright Horizons has an unsurpassed record of accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children and has been selected by Fortune as one of the 100 best companies to work for in America.
    "The trend is being driven by several factors, including the tight labor market," said Bright Horizons President Linda Mason. Employer-sponsored child care programs are increasing about five times faster than other child care. The trend is also being driven by women who are going back to work in greater numbers after having children, and it's being sparked by a new awareness of the importance of early childhood development, according to Mason.
    The Staples child care center will be more than just child care, Mason said. It will be education. The program will focus on emotional, intellectual and physical development. Pre-school children will use Language Works, a curriculum element that creates language-rich classrooms, and helps children gain writing, speaking, listening and reading skills.
    The child care center will offer the added benefit of emergency back-up care based on availability for those not regularly using the center. A summer camp program for toddlers and pre-school children will be available to those who are regularly enrolled or who wish to be enrolled only for the summer months. A School Age Program that includes school vacations, holidays and snow days will be available for older children ages 4 years to 13 years of Staples employees at the corporate center.
    Employer-sponsored child care supports exceptional quality, Mason said. With Staples paying for the center, for instance, there is even more funding available to provide superior child care. This leads to highly qualified teachers and a stable workplace. Nationwide, Bright Horizons pays teachers about 30 percent more than the national average and has a turnover rate of roughly half the national average.
    "Our new child care center is the latest in our ongoing efforts to expand our work-life practices at Staples," said Penny Outlaw, Director of Associate Relations and Diversity at Staples. "In addition to offering a comprehensive Employee Assistance Program that includes child and elder care referral services, adoption assistance referral services and dependent education referral services, Staples also offers adoption financial assistance and sick dependent days." Additionally, as of August 1, Staples will extend its practices to include alternate working arrangements such as flex time and telecommuting.
    The new child care center will be across from the company's new $84 million world corporate center, which will encompass 640,000 square feet on 82 acres of land. Scheduled for completion in October 1998, it will be one of the largest suburban office developments built in Massachusetts in the last 10 years. The corporate center's two six-story brick and reflective glass towers will be connected by a three-level amenities center and complemented by landscaping, walking trails and outdoor eating areas.
    "Staples has a long and successful history with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts," Stemberg said, "beginning with the opening of our first store in Brighton in 1986 and continuing with the 35 Massachusetts stores we have today. Our new corporate center in Framingham reaffirms our commitment to the region's economy and future."
    Staples, Inc. is a $5 billion retailer of office supplies, furniture and technology to consumers and businesses from home-based businesses to Fortune 50 companies in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany. Staples, headquartered outside Boston, Mass., invented the office superstore concept and today is the largest operator of office superstores in the world. The company, which has grown earnings per share at a 40 percent compound rate over the last five years, has 30,000 employees serving the business customer through 797 office superstores, mail order catalogs and a contract business.
    Bright Horizons is an organization dedicated to the mission of creating early education programs that help young children reach their full potential, by partnering with employers to develop and manage high-quality child care programs at the work-site. Bright Horizons is the nation's leading provider of work-site child care, with a network of 162 individually-tailored child development programs in 29 states and the District of Columbia.

     CONTACT: Linn Parrish or Rob Roth, 617/369-9200