Staples is set to acquire rival Office World's UK business in a£32.5 million deal that will strengthen its position as the market leader in office supplies.
The US retailer is awaiting clearance from the Office of Fair Trading for the purchase to go through.
Staples European retail president Theo Van Brandenburg said: 'The office products market in the UK has tremendous opportunities for growth. With this acquisition, Staples gains Office World's talented staff and great retail locations, increasing our ability to serve customers more conveniently and with lower costs.'
Staples UK managing director Andy Randall outlined his aggressive expansion plans last year (Retail Week, May 30, 2003), when he said that he aimed to increase Staples' UK portfolio from 93 to 250 stores. The acquisition of 59-strong Office World is a big step toward this target.
Office World chief executive officer Andy Etherington said: 'For (our Swiss parent) Globus, the merger allows the group to focus on an increasingly competitive home market, while realising a return on its investment in Office World.
'This alliance, between a strong world player and a solid European business, has great potential for the future, to serve a rapidly expanding home and business market. It will provide an opportunity for the business and its employees to progress and prosper.'
Staples generated sales of US$13.2 billion (£7.23 billion) in 2003 and has 1,600 stores in 11 countries.