CHICAGO Feb 3 Missouri is the latest state
investigating whether Office Depot Inc ODP.N overcharged
agencies that have contracts with the retailer, a spokesman for
the state's attorney general's office confirmed on Tuesday.
The spokesman said Attorney General Chris Koster's office
was looking into whether Office Depot overcharged government
agencies, nonprofit agencies and charitable groups in
The Missouri attorney general's office said it recently
sent Office Depot a letter demanding some documents.
"While we intend to vigorously defend any allegations of
wrongdoing lodged against our company, we will fully cooperate
with the Missouri Attorney General's office, as we do in all
government and regulatory inquires," Office Depot said in a
Missouri's investigation follows a probe by at least one
other state. Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum was
investigating the retailer for alleged "bait-and-switch"
McCollum's office said Office Depot has been fully
cooperating with its investigation, which began in May 2008.
The National Office Products Alliance (NOPA), a trade
association for independent office products dealers, said on
Tuesday that North Carolina was also investigating the
retailer. The North Carolina attorney general's office could
not be immediately reached for comment.
NOPA said the annual value of Office Depot's "U.S.
Communities" national contract for office and classroom
supplies is estimated at $600 million to $700 million.
"NOPA continues to advocate for more, not less, competition
that includes independent small businesses in our industry,
with consistent multiple contract awards to ensure there is
ongoing, daily competition for government business," the
association's chairman, Bob Chilton, said in a statement.
Office Depot, which is based in Boca Raton, Florida, said
in December that it would close 126 stores and lay off about
4.5 percent of its workforce as the economic downturn has cut
demand from small businesses and retail customers. At that
time, the company also said it would open fewer stores in 2009
than originally planned, close some distribution centers and
may restructure or exit businesses.
(Reporting by Jessica Wohl, editing by Maureen Bavdek)