Profit also up
US stationery giant Office Depot revealed fourth-quarter sales up 3 per cent to US$3.8 billion (£1.93 billion), despite holiday promotions and reduced technology sales, for the 13 weeks to December 30.

Excluding the 53rd week of 2005, sales rose 8 per cent for the period. Net earnings for the quarter were US$135 million (£68.7 million), compared with US$106 million (£53.9 million) in 2005 and operating profit was 4.7 per cent, compared with 3.7 per cent the previous year.

North American retail sales were flat at US$1.7 billion (£864.9 million). However, excluding the effect of the 53rd week in 2005, sales rose 7 per cent. Comparable store sales rose 1 per cent - the 12th consecutive quarter of positive sales - and operating profit was US$122 million (£62 million), up from US$103 million (£52.4 million) the year before.

Office Depot chairman and chief executive Steve Odland said: 'We are pleased with the performance of our business in the fourth quarter. The strategic initiatives that we have implemented have led to sales growth in each of our divisions, as well as lower operating expenses and expanded total company margins.'

The office supplier opened 39 stores and remodelled 63 during the period. It now operates 1,158 stores throughout the US and Canada.

Sales increased 5 per cent to US$15 billion (£7.63 billion), for the year to December 30. Sales rose 6 per cent, excluding the 53rd week of 2005. Comparable stores sales at the North American retail division were up 2 per cent for the year.

Net earnings were US$516 million (£262.5 million), compared with US$274 million (£139.4 million) in 2005. Full-year operating profit was 4.9 per cent, compared with 2.4 per cent the year before.