Private equity firm Sycamore Partners could acquire Staples for more than $6 billion after outpacing private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management in bidding, unnamed sources told Fortune.
Sycamore is finalizing a financing package and a deal could be revealed as early as next week, though negotiations are ongoing, according to the report. Fortune said that Staples and Sycamore declined to comment and that Cerberus didn’t respond to its request for comment.
- Staples last month said it's on track to close approximately 70 stores in North America this year, and it touted the launch of a new brand campaign emphasizing itself as a “solutions provider for businesses of all sizes.”
Staples reportedly has been in talks with various private equity firms for a couple of months, in hopes of orchestrating a turnaround as a private company, after its failed merger with Office Depot last year. Since then, the office supplies retailer has shed its overseas operations, culled expenses and developed business contracts and retail strategies in a tough environment that now increasingly includes Amazon.
Last month Staples said that total first quarter sales fell 5% year-over-year to $4.1 billion. Same-store sales in the quarter fell 2.6%, where declines in office supplies and ink and toner were partially offset by growth in facilities supplies, break room supplies and technology solutions, according to a company press release. That beat FactSet analyst estimates for a 4.1% decline cited by MarketWatch.
But while Staples is "stabilizing," it's not likely to see a sustained turnaround this year, particularly because its strategy will likely further erode the retail side of its business, GlobalData Retail Analyst Carter Harrison said in a note emailed to Retail Dive.
"[W]e .. maintain our view that Staples should make much more effort to persuade consumers to buy from it," Harrison said. "A failure to do this will lead to the faster and unnecessary decline of this part of the business, something that will damage Staples as it tries to recover." Plus, he added, the business market is "not a panacea."
Amazon’s success in the business-to-business side has been something of a surprise because that's an area thought to be more protected than consumer retail sales, Matt Sargent, senior vice president of Retail at Frank N. Magid Associates, told Retail Dive in an email earlier this year.
“Amazon is penetrating small, medium and large corporations within office supplies," he said. "This is a red flag for Staples given that corporate office supplies are the most profitable segment of Staples' portfolio.”