Canada's Grand & Toy office supply firm to shut stores, focus online

TORONTO, April 25 Fri Apr 25, 2014 12:58pm EDT

TORONTO, April 25 (Reuters) - Canadian office supply firm Grand & Toy is closing all of its retail outlets and will serve customers via direct sales and online, said its parent company, OfficeMax Inc.

In a statement posted on its Canadian website, OfficeMax said the closures of the 19 stores would affect 160 of its more than 1,300 workers in Canada.

It noted that only three percent of Grand & Toy sales were from walk-in business at stores.

"These store closures are a response to a shift in the purchasing preferences of our business customers," OfficeMax Grand & Toy General Manager Simon Finch said in the statement. He added that the company remains one of the largest office products providers in Canada.

Last month, the top U.S. office supply retailer, Staples Inc , said it would close up to 225 stores in the United States and Canada, about 12 percent of its North American outlets.

Staples and No. 2 rival Office Depot Inc, which bought OfficeMax last year for $976 million, have been struggling to keep shoppers from turning to mass market merchants such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc and online retailers like Amazon.com Inc.

In Canada, retailers have mostly lagged the United States in ecommerce, but companies are increasingly investing in online infrastructure amid growing competition from rivals.

Grand & Toy was launched in 1883 in Toronto by James Grand and his brother-in-law, Samuel Toy. It was acquired by Boise Office Solutions - now OfficeMax - in 1996. (Reporting by Solarina Ho; Editing by Paul Simao)

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