Framingham-based Staples, the company that operates the office-supply giant’s North American delivery arm, said chief executive J. Alexander “Sandy” Douglas is stepping down and will be replaced on an interim basis by chairman John Lederer.
The changes go into effect Friday, and the board has begun the search for a permanent CEO, Staples said in a statement Wednesday. The company said Staples and Douglas “mutually agreed” to the departure. Staples and Douglas declined to comment further.
“I look forward to working closely with Chief Financial Officer Jeff Hall and the rest of the senior management team to oversee the day-to-day operations of the Company and execute on our growth strategy as the economic recovery in North America gains momentum,” Lederer said in a press release.
Lederer has been chairman of Staples since 2017, the same year it was acquired by a New York private equity firm, Sycamore Partners, for nearly $7 billion. As a result of the deal, Staples’ corporate structure was split into three arms: North American delivery, US retail, and Canadian retail.
Soon after the transition in 2018, Douglas was appointed chief executive of the delivery operation, which sells office supplies to businesses. He had previously worked for 30 years as an executive at Coca-Cola.
His departure comes less than a month after Staples made a $1 billion offer to buy the Office Depot and OfficeMax retail operations from their parent company, ODP Corp. Stefan Kaluzny, who runs Staples owner Sycamore Partners, submitted the bid in June after being rebuffed by Office Depot earlier in the year about a a $2.1 billion offer for the entire ODP business.
A spokesperson for ODP declined to comment on Douglas’s departure and referred only to a June 4 press release, which said that the ODP board of directors was reviewing the offer.
Like Staples, Florida-based ODP also runs a business-to-business arm, which was hit hard by the temporary closing of office buildings and the shift to working from home during the pandemic. According to ODP’s annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, that segment drove overall sales down by 9 percent last year, compared to 2019.
In May, ODP announced plans to split into two publicly traded companies, a move that would separate its business-to-business and retail operations.
Material from Bloomberg News was used in this report.