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The Boston Globe

Business

Staples cuts jobs in ‘leadership’ positions

Staples Inc. said Thursday that it has “eliminated a number” of US jobs, most of them “leadership positions” at the company’s Framingham headquarters, as the office supply chain continues to reinvent itself to take more business online.

The company did not specify when these cuts occurred or how many people had been laid off, and it did not respond to repeated requests for additional information

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“We will continue to aggressively manage our expenses and evolve our organization to support our reinvention,” spokesman Mark Cautela wrote in an e-mail to the Globe, later adding: “This change represents less than 1 percent of North American and corporate functions, the majority of which are leadership positions in our home office.”

Staples employed about 85,000 full- and part-time employees as of February, down 3.1 percent from nearly 88,000 full- and part-time workers in January 2012, according to financial filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

A little less than a year ago, Staples unveiled plans to turn the company around by closing stores in the United States and abroad, shrinking the size of other retail locations, and restructuring its overseas business, as well as the company’s leadership. The company said it expected to trim its retail space in North America roughly 15 percent by the end of 2015, and has been revamping certain locations to blend in-store, online, and mobile shopping.

Liang Feng, an equity analyst at Morningstar, said Staples has been a “first mover” in making the transition to online sales and sits behind only Amazon.com on the list of top Internet retailers. Still, he said, Staples’ recent operating results have been “fairly weak.”

Staples’ revenue in the second quarter declined 2 percent, to $5.3 billion compared with the same period last year, and the company cut its sales and earnings outlook. The company said it expected full-year earnings per share from continuing operations to be $1.21 to $1.25 after earlier projecting earnings of $1.30 to $1.35 per share.

Staples stock closed at $14.05 a share Thursday, up 17 cents.

Feng said Staples operates in an industry that is particularly sensitive to the economy and job market. Demand for office supplies depends on strong economic and job growth, but both have been lackluster in recent years.

“They’ve executed much better in this environment than [rival office supply chains] OfficeMax and Office Depot . . . [but] they’re still facing challenges from non-traditional office suppliers,” Feng said of Staples. “We think increased competition will limit the margins that they’ve been generating in their US division.”

Erin Ailworth can be reached at eailworth@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @ailworth.

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