Depot seeks new chief as Nelson moves on


The search is on for a new leader at Office Depot following last month’s news that chairman/CEO Bruce Nelson has left the company.

An official statement released by the company said he "has resigned from the company by mutual agreement with the board of directors". While it searches for a permanent replacement, veteran board member Neil Austrian, 64, will serve as interim chairman/CEO.

It would appear that Nelson has ultimately paid the price for September’s disappointing profit warning, made all the more unpalatable as it came at a time when rival Staples posted yet another record-breaking set of results.

Speaking at a conference call the day of the announcement, Austrian said he was "absolutely committed to making the company a more profitable business" and that today’s announcement marked "an important turning point" in Depot’s fortunes. He pledged "better and more rapid execution" moving forward and added: "We hope the change in leadership will jump-start growth and bring new creative ways to make Office Depot a formidable competitor."

Nevertheless, Depot’s lead director James Heskett paid tribute to Nelson’s efforts, saying: "We appreciate Bruce Nelson’s many contributions to our company over the past four years and wish him well in his future endeavours."

The departing Nelson added: "I am proud of what I have accomplished over the past four years at Office Depot and believe that we have established a stronger platform from which the company can pursue growth. I firmly believe that the company’s best years are ahead."

Austrian said that the company hopes to have named a permanent replacement by early 2005.

Delray Beach (FL)