Business & Tech

Coca-Cola executive to lead Staples

Staples Inc. chief executive Shira Goodman’s last day is Friday, according to a letter sent to employees that was obtained by the Wall Street Journal.
Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff
Staples Inc. chief executive Shira Goodman’s last day is Friday, according to a letter sent to employees that was obtained by the Wall Street Journal.

A top Coca-Cola executive will take over as chief executive of Staples Inc. on April 2, less than a year after private equity firm Sycamore Partners acquired control of the Framingham-based office products supplier.

Sycamore hired J. Alexander “Sandy” Douglas for the job, replacing chief executive Shira Goodman. Douglas has worked for 30 years at Coca-Cola, and was president of Coca Cola North America from 2006 through the end of last year.

John Lederer, the executive chairman of Staples, will lead the company on a day-to-day basis until Douglas starts.

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“The North American Delivery business has a significant opportunity to accelerate long-term growth, and we are pleased to have Sandy join the leadership team at this important time,” Lederer said in a statement. “Sandy has extensive experience across multiple function areas including sales, marketing, merchandising and operations. This well-rounded experience makes him an ideal leader for Staples.”

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For Goodman, the change ends a tenure at Staples that began in 1992 when she joined from consulting firm Bain & Co., which had worked with Staples to develop its delivery business, now a major focal point for the company.

She’s a protege of former chief executive Ron Sargent, who stepped down after a deal he engineered to buy smaller rival Office Depot fell apart in 2016 amid antitrust concerns. Goodman was briefly an interim chief executive before officially getting the job in September of that year.

New York-based Sycamore reached a deal to buy Staples, which had been a publicly traded company, in June 2017 for nearly $7 billion. At the time, Sycamore managing director Stefan Kaluzny had expressed confidence in Goodman’s leadership. By that point, Staples had annual revenue of about $18 billion and about 60,000 employees, and the company had pared back its retail empire to about 1,500 stores.

Goodman had been trying to increase the company’s focus on business customers by bulking up its sales force to target mid-sized companies.

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Mark Cautela, a spokesman for Staples, confirmed that Goodman’s last day was Friday.

“Shira has played a critical role in the evolution of North American Delivery, from its earliest days as just an idea to its current market leadership,” Cautela said in a statement. “We are immensely grateful for the contributions she has made to Staples over the last 26 years and she departs having led this organization with the highest level of integrity.”

Lederer, a former chief executive of US Foods, joined Sycamore in September as a senior adviser, approximately a week after Sycamore completed its purchase of Staples.

Sycamore said Lederer’s role included serving as executive chairman of Staples and its newly independent US and Canadian retail operations. The corporate structure was broken into three pieces as part of Sycamore’s acquisition: North American delivery, US retail, and Canadian retail.

Douglas’s focus will be on overseeing the North American delivery business. David Boone, a former TD Bank executive, was recently recruited to run the Canadian retail operation as its chief executive, and longtime Staples executive Steve Matyas oversees Staples’ retail operations in the US.

Jon Chesto can be reached at jon.chesto@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.