Staples shuts down Canadian stores, shifts focus to online

Staples Canada (NASDAQ:SPLS) announced Wednesday that it has closed 15 of its 331 stores in order to put more emphasis on the digital side of the business.

The office supply chain announced back in March that it planned to shut down 225 stores throughout North America, accounting for 12 percent of its brick-and-mortar locations in the region. It's all part of the company's attempt to cut costs and achieve greater efficiency as it competes with the likes of Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and the recently-merged Office Depot and OfficeMax (NASDAQ:ODP).

Staples shuttered 96 stores in the first half of 2014, and intends to close another 40 by the end of the year. The retailer has also been busy relocating and downsizing stores to save $250 million this year, and aims to double that savings by the end of 2015.

"Slow traffic in retail is impacting a lot of retailers," Staples CEO Ronald Sargent said in August, arguing that the industry has too many stores in the United States. "That is driven by the shift to online as well as the decline of paper-based office supplies."

Sargent expects Staples' brick-and-mortar strategy to be increasingly shaped by customer demand, as the shopping preferences continue to change for all retailers. Shoppers will steer the ship when it comes to telling the company how many stores they want, how big they should be, and what products and pricing they want available to them there.

However, some experts feel that the officer supplier hasn't adequately adjusted its in-store experience to keep up with consumer habits.

"They need to reinvent the office product buying experience to be more about education and experiences and less about file cabinets and reams of paper," Doug Stephens, a retail consultant, told Yahoo Finance. "If they don't make this transition soon, I suspect we'll see more closures in the months and years ahead."

For more:
-See this Yahoo Finance story

Related stories:
Staples redesigns healthier headquarters
Buy online, pickup in-store increasing in popularity
Staples, Office Depot, one investor away from a merger?
Staples expands omnichannel capabilities
Synergy savings boosts Office Depot's Q2