Comment

Think positive

I’ve become a bit wary of predicting the outcome of Staples’ attempted acquisition of Office Depot. It seems things have become political at the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and that it is intent on blocking the deal come what may. It now appears increasingly likely that only a major divestment of assets by Staples – over and above the $1.25 billion in contracts already offered – will save the day, and I’m not convinced Ron Sargent is prepared to go that far.

If talks between Staples and the FTC remain in deadlock, we will probably be heading into a federal court hearing that will start in March and then last for at least three weeks, meaning it could be April at the earliest before a final decision is made. Unless something unexpected happens before then…

All this uncertainty is a godsend for other resellers. I’m sure Lyreco execs are rubbing their hands in glee at this protracted acquisition process, while large independent dealers in the US appear to be preparing the ground for a push into the national and large regional contracts arena.

Against the backdrop of this transaction, the business supplies market continues to evolve, but it’s clear that progressive companies which are willing to embrace change or take chances are succeeding. A case in point is our Big Interview this month, which features the interesting rise of German online reseller Büromarkt Böttcher – a real rags-to-riches story…

Andy Braithwaite, Editor-at-large