Print Page  |  Close Window

News Release

Staples to Promote President Ronald L. Sargent to CEO; Founder Thomas G. Stemberg to become Executive Chairman

Succession set for fiscal 2002; Sargent and Stemberg together to remain focused on Staples' growth strategies

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. - Sept. 5, 2001 - Staples, Inc. today announced that, effective Feb. 3, 2002, President and Chief Operating Officer Ronald L. Sargent will become chief executive officer, while Chairman and CEO Thomas G. Stemberg will be appointed executive chairman.

Sargent and Stemberg will work together on corporate strategy, vision and mission in their new positions, which take effect at the beginning of the company's next fiscal year.

As CEO, Sargent, a 13-year Staples veteran, will have responsibility for the daily strategic direction of Staples. Stemberg, who founded Staples in 1985 and opened the world's first office superstore a year later in Brighton, Mass., will remain involved with the company on a daily basis as executive chairman, managing overall corporate governance, new growth initiatives, public relations, investor relations and certain financial matters.

To learn how two top executives can transition to new roles and successfully share the leadership of a large corporation, Stemberg and Sargent traveled to several companies, including Microsoft, where the pair met with Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer plus Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates.

"Tom and I wanted to visit companies that have risen to new heights as its leaders transition to new roles," Sargent said. "At Microsoft we picked up some practical advice on what works and what doesn't work when top executives modify their roles and share in the leadership of a company.

"We have worked diligently to create a plan for Staples that allows us to individually focus on different areas of the company while operating in tandem to define overall strategic vision," Sargent added. "Tom and I already know we work well together, having established a pattern of successfully collaborating on corporate issues at Staples for more than a decade."

Said Stemberg, "I will remain very active in the company I founded 16 years ago. I believe the ultimate legacy for the CEO and founder of a corporation is how well the company performs as the leadership transitions.

"I am confident that our management plan will help ensure the success of Staples in the years to come," Stemberg added. "Ron and I together have guided the vision of this company for the past 13 years. Ron Sargent has been a key contributor to our success."

Under Stemberg and Sargent's leadership, Staples became one of six companies in U.S. history to reach $3 billion in sales within 10 years, and is now an $11 billion operation.

About Ronald L. Sargent

Sargent began his retailing career as a teenager at The Kroger Co., the world's largest supermarket chain, stocking shelves and operating the cash register. After receiving his undergraduate degree from Harvard College and his master's degree in business administration from Harvard Business School, Sargent rejoined Kroger and held management positions in operations, human resources, strategy, sales and marketing.

Sargent joined Staples in 1989 as regional vice president of operations. He has held a variety of executive jobs at the company, helping to build the business and shape its vision. As president and chief operating officer, Sargent has been responsible for Staples' worldwide operations, including U.S., Canadian and European retail superstores, Staples Contract and Commercial worldwide, the Quill brand, and the company's supply chain management, merchandising and marketing activities. Beginning in 1991, Sargent headed Staples Direct, the company's delivery operation. He dramatically built that business, acquiring several contract stationers and developing Direct's current delivery system.

A former board member of Literacy Volunteers of America, Sargent sits on the board of the Yankee Candle Co. and the board of advisors to the Boston College Carroll School of Management.

About Thomas G. Stemberg

After graduating from Harvard College and Harvard Business School as a George F. Baker Scholar, Stemberg joined Jewel's Star Market stores corporate training program in 1973, rising to vice president for sales and merchandising by 1980. He moved on to Connecticut-based First National Supermarkets, where he held various senior management positions, and was promoted to president of the company's Edwards-Finast division. Stemberg also serves as a director of PETsMART.

Active in his community, Stemberg is a trustee of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and maintains close ties to Harvard University, where he serves on the Overseers Visiting Committee to the Harvard Business School and is a co-chairman of Friends of Harvard Basketball.

About Staples

Staples Inc. is an $11 billion retailer of office supplies, furniture, technology and business services to consumers and businesses from home-based businesses to Fortune 500 companies in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands and Portugal. Headquartered outside Boston, Staples invented the office superstore concept and today is the largest operator of office superstores in the world. The company has over 50,000 employees serving customers through more than 1,300 office superstores, mail order catalogs, e-commerce and a contract business. More information about the company is available at

Certain information contained in this news release constitutes forward looking statements for purposes of the safe harbor provisions of The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Actual results may differ materially from those indicated by such forward-looking statements as a result of various important factors including risks related to Staples' ability to compete in its highly competitive market, Staples' ability to continue to successfully open new stores, Staples' quarterly operating results being subject to significant fluctuation, Staples' stock price fluctuating based on the expectations of professional securities analysts, the strain on operations due to Staples' rapid growth which can affect operating results, the ability of Staples' foreign operations and to become profitable and the ability of Staples to obtain adequate future financing. Additional information concerning these factors is contained in Staples' Annual Report on Form 10-K dated March 15, 2001, which is on file with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Laurel Lefebvre
Director, Investor Relations
Staples, Inc.

Tom Nutile
Vice President, Public Relations
Staples, Inc.

Erica Keane
Hill & Knowlton