Office Depot Acquires Complete Office Solutions

Office Depot (ODP) has acquired Complete Office Solutions for an undisclosed amount, according to a confirmed report.Complete Office is a large independent office supplies dealer with a geographic focus on Washington state, California and Wisconsin.Office Depot is pivoting from a products retailer to an IT service provider, so the Complete deal may be one of several to come as ODP seeks to create a nationwide network of local sales forces to cross-sell its recently-acquired tech support service offerings from CompuCom.Seattle, Washington-based Complete was founded in 2003 to provide a single distribution point for office supplies to local businesses. It expanded to Wisconsin in 2006, to San Diego in 2007 and Boise, Idaho in 2015.Management is headed by co-founder and CEO Ted Nark, who was previously CEO of Corporate Express Australia.Complete's primary offerings include office products, furniture, business printing, janitorial and sanitation, coffee and breakroom and promotional products totaling more than 25,000 SKUs.Its customer base is primarily small and mid-market businesses seeking to consolidate their office supply purchase sourcing into one vendor.Neither firm disclosed the acquisition price or terms and Office Depot didn't file an 8-K or disclose a change in financial guidance.According to the deal report, Complete had grown to $150 million in annual revenues and employs more than 300 people.The combination of Complete with Office Depot promises to expand Office Depot's mid-market business penetration in a few key markets.Additionally, Office Depot plans to keep Complete as a separate business division, even keeping its name and distribution facilities.Office Depot has whipsawed investors recently, with an announcement last week that it intends to pivot 'the company from a traditional office products retailer to a broader business services and technology products platform.'The announcement came as the firm agreed to acquire CompuCom Systems for $1 billion in total consideration.By pursuing an IT and business services approach, ODP hopes to leave behind the low growth, generic office products business in favor of developing a 'comprehensive network of enterprise-level tech services and products.'The deal for Complete is likely a harbinger of more deals for independent, mid-market centric firms with strong local sales forces that can cross-sell IT services to their existing customer base.I expect to see similar deals like Complete as ODP seeks to create a distribution network of sorts for its CompuCom capabilities and combine office supplies with IT services.Investors remain unconvinced, as the stock plunged 17% on the CompuCom/business pivot announcement:(Source: Seeking Alpha)So, ODP shareholders have a long road ahead. Management wants to turn the firm in a different direction, changing it from a retailer to a service provider to SMB and mid-market customers.That's not an easy job to accomplish, and I imagine investors won't be patient. ODP will need to show positive results within the next 3-4 quarters, otherwise, investors may lose interest.I write about M&A deals, public company investments in technology startups, and IPOs. Click the Follow button next to my name at the top or bottom of this article if you want to receive future articles automatically.Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

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