Staples on Friday announced J. Alexander Douglas, known as "Sandy," will replace Shira Goodman as CEO, effective April 2. The company’s executive chairman, John Lederer, will lead the company in the interim, according to a company press release.
Douglas most recently served as president of Coca-Cola North America, where he led all aspects of consumer and business-to-business operations. During his 30-year tenure at The Coca-Cola Company, he also served as global chief customer officer, and a variety of other positions across sales and marketing. He began his career at Procter & Gamble in sales and sales management.
Goodman took the helm in autumn of 2016 after a stint as interim chief following the departure of longtime CEO Ron Sargent. She had been leading Staples' North American operations.
Goodman’s departure isn’t a major surprise; change was inevitable after private equity firm Sycamore Partners acquired the office supplies company last year for $6.9 billion. The firm almost immediately began making major adjustments, including the split of its business-to-business and retail operations. In October, sources told CNBC that Sycamore was raising its biggest fund ever in order to double down on a retail focus.
But it’s taken a while, and many observers had begun to believe that Goodman would stay on. Last year, she landed on Fortune’s list of "Most Powerful Woman," and the magazine at the time noted, "It says a lot about its faith in Goodman that Sycamore Partners, Staples’ new private equity owner, decided to keep her in place."
As a privately owned company now, Staples isn't reporting sales results, but the retailer has been in turmoil for some time. Its biggest undertaking last year was to implement a strategic plan it was forced to develop in the wake of its failed $6.3 billion merger attempt with rival Office Depot, which was halted when a U.S. District Court Judge granted the Federal Trade Commission's request for an injunction on antitrust concerns. Part of that entailed shuttering stores and cutting costs. In August, the company said total sales in the second quarter fell 3% to $3.9 billion from $4.03 billion in the year-ago period. Same-store sales in that quarter fell 1.1% over last year.
In a statement on Friday, Lederer said Douglas's experience is what the company needs at this point, particularly in North America. Staples (like Office Depot) unloaded its overseas operations after the merger fell apart.