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Who we are

In 1985, Staples’ founder Tom Stemberg, a former supermarket chain executive turned entrepreneur, was working on a business proposal over the Fourth of July weekend when his typewriter ribbon broke. Because it was the holiday weekend, local suppliers and stationery stores were closed. After driving from store to store and not finding the correct ribbon, Tom came to a realization: The world needed a supermarket for office products.

Ten months later, Staples, the first office superstore, was open for business. And office supplies became more accessible, and affordable, to all who needed them.

Staples entered the European market in 1991 and, in the 25 years since, we have become the leading provider of workplace products, services and solutions to small, mid-sized, and large businesses in Europe. During this time, one thing has remained the same: Our customers are our priority, our single focus is to ensure that our customers have everything they need to turn possibilities into realities.

History of Staples

Staples through the years

We’ve been helping businesses for 30 years, and it all began thanks to a broken typewriter ribbon.

  • Timeline image


    • Launches the office products superstore industry with the opening of its first store in Brighton, MA

  • 1988

    • Raises $36 million through an IPO and launches Staples Direct, a catalog delivery service

  • 1991

    • Enters the European marketplace, investing in German office superstore, MAXI–Papier, and a few months later partners with the United Kingdom retail giant Kingfisher

  • 1992

    • Launches Contract and Commercial division to serve multisite organizations and Fortune 1000 businesses 
    • Opens first store in the United Kingdom

  • 1995

    • Turns 10 and becomes Fortune 500 company
    • Buys out European partner Kingfisher and MAXI–Papier
    • Sales pass $3 billion, making Staples the sixth company in history to achieve $3 billion in sales within 10 years of start–up

  • 1998

    • Expands European retail presence with the acquisitions of 15 Sigma Burowelt stores in Germany, 21 Office Centre stores in the Netherlands, and 6 Office Centre stores in Portugal
    • Launches in-store pack and ship services

  • 2000

    • Becomes the first office supply superstore to integrate its eCommerce site into its retail locations

  • 2001

    • Becomes the world's largest seller of office supplies, with revenues topping $11 billion
    • Launches Staples Foundation for Learning® to support organizations that "teach, train and inspire"

  • 2002

    • "Staples. Introduces the Staples Easy Brand promise; "Staples. that was easy.®"

  • 2003

    • Initiates first-ever stock dividend to shareholders
    • Expands European delivery business with acquisition of Pressel Versand International GmbH, based in Vienna, Austria, and the office products division of Malling Beck A/S of Denmark

  • 2004

    • Premieres the Easy Button — a new icon is born
    • Begins selling Staples® brand products in Stop & Shop and Giant supermarkets
    • Unveils its new corporate responsibility initiative, "Staples Soul," and publishes its first Corporate Responsibility report

  • 2005

    • Celebrates 20th anniversary
    • Sales reach $18.2 billion 
    • Worldwide eCommerce sales reach $5 billion

  • 2007

    • Acquires Corporate Express, one of the world's leading suppliers of office products to businesses and institutions
    • Ranked second largest Internet retailer, after, in Internet Retailer Magazine's top 500 retail Web sites

  • 2008

    • Rebranded Contract business across the globe to Staples Advantage®

  • 2012

    • Announces improved user experience across Staples websites
    • Acquires Runa, a software company based in San Mateo, CA, that helps online retailers personalize the shopping experience
    • Opens Development Center in Seattle, responsible for enhancing how customers shop across mobile devices, desktops and stores

  • 2017

    • Cerberus Capital Management acquires a controlling interest in Staples Inc.’s European operations

Our Board of Directors

Olof Persson: Chairman of Staples Solutions B.V.
Olof Persson is the Chairman of Staples Solutions B.V. and an Executive of Cerberus Operations and Advisory Company, LLC. In addition, he is also the chairman of the board of the Swedish company, New Wave Group.

Prior to joining Cerberus as the Chairman of Staples Solutions, Mr. Persson served as the president of AB Volvo and Chief Executive Officer  of the Volvo Group from 2011-2015. He served as the Chief Executive Officer at the Volvo Aero Group from 2006-2008 and Chief Executive Officer at the Volvo Construction Equipment from 2008 before his appointment to oversee the entire group in 2011.

Mr. Persson began his career at ABB in 1988 and, among other assignments, held a number of executive positions at AdTranz and Daimler-Chrysler, and the mainline and metros division of Bombardier in Germany.

Mr. Persson earned his degree in business at Karlstad University, Sweden.

See the complete board

Our Leadership Team