Office Depot picks turnaround expert Roland Smith as CEO

NEW YORK Tue Nov 12, 2013 6:19pm EST

An Office Depot store is pictured in Encinitas, California, February 19, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Blake

An Office Depot store is pictured in Encinitas, California, February 19, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Mike Blake

NEW YORK (Reuters) - No. 2 U.S. office supply retailer Office Depot Inc (ODP.N) named Roland Smith, the former head of the U.S. unit of supermarkets operator Delhaize Group, as its new chief executive on Tuesday, hoping to tap his expertise in integrating and turning around businesses.

Smith orchestrated the successful integration of the major supermarket chains owned by Delhaize, and improved profits by arranging the sale of three of them. Smith also played a key role in combining restaurant chain Wendy's WEN.N with Arby's.

Smith also led operational turnarounds at American Golf Corporation, the world's largest owner and operator of golf courses, and AMF, the world's largest owner and operator of bowling centers, Office Depot said in a statement on Tuesday.

The news came a week after Office Depot closed its $976 million deal to buy rival OfficeMax Inc OMX.N. The deal aims at cutting costs, consolidating stores, boosting clout with suppliers and improving their chances of fighting market leader Staples Inc (SPLS.O), as well as online and discount rivals.

Office Depot's Neil Austrian and OfficeMax's Ravi Saligram, who served as co-CEOs of the combined entity for a week and CEOs of the respective companies before that, have resigned and stepped down from the board, according to the statement.

(Reporting by Dhanya Skariachan in New York; Additional reporting by Phil Wahba; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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