2018: Out of all the new entries in this year’s Top 100, it is without a doubt Staples Inc’s Sandy Douglas who has made the biggest mark on his company and indeed the industry as a whole in the shortest period of time.
Following the departure of Shira Goodman at the end of January, Staples’ owner Sycamore Partners quickly appointed Douglas as new CEO, in charge of the company’s North American B2B delivery entity, which does not include the separate US and Canadian retail units and is run separately.
Douglas didn’t start in his role until April 2018, following his planned retirement from Coca-Cola on 1 March that was announced in October 2017. He had been with Coca-Cola for the past 30 years and most recently served as head of its $10 billion North American division.
While Sycamore’s initial – and then hostile – takeover bid for US wholesaler Essendant was made in May, the thinking behind that move became a little more obvious a few weeks later when Douglas said his strategy was to “build partnerships with local dealers”. The nature of these partnerships wasn’t made completely clear at the time, but his statement was quickly followed by the news that Staples had bought one of the largest independent dealers in the US, HiTouch Business Services. Most recently, it also added smaller operator CPI One Point.
The acquisition of dealers is evidently just part of the strategy, as the past few months have shown. While a future tie-up of Staples and Essendant looks likely, it’s by no means a done deal yet.