End of an era for Staples as brand to disappear from UK

Staples' UK arm has been sold to a restructuring specialist
Staples' UK arm has been sold to a restructuring specialist
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Stationery and office supplies stalwart Staples is to disappear from the British high street after a sale of the UK operations by its US parent company.

Falling sales of pens and paper in the digital age, combined with increased competition from online retailers have hit the chain hard in recent years.

The new owner, restructuring specialist Hilco Capital, said it would phase out the Staples brand, although it is not clear if that will have impact on the 1,300-strong workforce in its 107 UK stores.

Under terms of the sale, for a nominal fee, Hilco will have the Staples licence for just six months. It said it would look at all options for the company, including potentially selling some stores and repurposing the business.

Hilco was responsible for the turnaround of music retailer HMV and also American Apparel, which is to close a number of its outlets. Staples, which opened its first UK store in Swansea in 1992, has debts worth £60 million in its UK business, which will be taken on by Hilco. The UK arm posted a £5m loss in the year to January 2015.

Shira Goodman, chief executive and president of Staples, said: “Agreeing to sell our UK retail business to Hilco aligns with our go-forward strategy of focusing on our North American and mid-market business, and is a meaningful step in that process.”

Hilco’s Paul McGowan said: “While retail in the UK has been challenged recently, a team led by retail veteran Alan Gaynor will work alongside the existing management team to build a plan for success for the business.”

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