Depot names Odland as Nelson successor

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Office Depot has officially confirmed that Steve Odland has been appointed as its new chairman/CEO, ending a five-month search to replace Bruce Nelson, who departed last October.

Odland, who had been chairman and president/CEO of auto parts retailer AutoZone for the past five years, takes over the reins from Neil Austrian who had been acting CEO in the interim.

Commenting on the appointment, Austrian said: "Steve’s track record in delivering strong operating performance and excellent financial results in challenging business environments makes him the ideal person to lead our company to the next level.

"With his background in marketing and merchandising, his demonstrated focus on building loyalty through customer service and satisfaction, and an unparalleled record in the creation of shareholder value, we could not have found a better fit for our company. We are delighted that Steve has agreed to join us."

Odland, 46, has a distinguished history in retail. Before joining AutoZone he served as COO of supermarket operator Ahold USA. He said of his new role: "Office Depot is an excellent franchise and I look forward to working with its highly dedicated team to help the company achieve its full potential. My focus will be on driving profitable growth by exceeding the expectations of our customers, and building shareholder value by making Office Depot an industry leader in efficiency and productivity. It’s a great opportunity and I’m ready to get started."

The appointment caused Depot’s share price to reach a new 52-week high on the NYSE within a day. At one stage it hit $21.46 before falling back to close at $20.75, up 8.13 per cent and still ahead of the previous year’s high of $19.71.

Odland’s appointment also received the thumbs up from the analyst community, with Goldman Sachs declaring he could be the "right executive for the right time".