OfficeMax Inc., struggling to keep up with its competition in the crowded office supplies business, said Tuesday that it would close 110 retail superstores across the U.S. and make other restructuring moves in the first quarter.
The company also said it would close its wood-polymer building materials plant in Elma, Wash., and five retail stores in Canada as part of a shake-up that would result in $187 million in pretax charges.
The moves represent the latest attempt by the Itasca, Ill.-based company to get out of the doldrums after what its largest investor has blasted as a "dismal" financial and operating performance recently.
It wasn't immediately clear whether the restructuring was enough to satisfy that investor, K Capital Partners, whose managing director, Brian Steck, demanded changes in November in a scathing letter to the board of directors. Steck did not immediately comment.
Analyst Anthony Chukumba of Chicago-based Morningstar Inc. said OfficeMax had been falling further behind both industry leader Staples Inc. and No. 2 Office Depot Inc. despite two years of changes, most recently a new store format featuring boutique-like shopping areas, soft lighting and a cafe.
OfficeMax did not disclose the locations of the stores targeted for closure by the end of March or how many jobs would be affected. The company will be notifying the stores involved over the next week, spokesman Bill Bonner said.
OfficeMax still intends to open 70 stores this year and expects to have 887 domestic retail stores at the end of this year.
Shares in the company rose 13 cents to $26.66.