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Staples on Track to Achieve Strong Earnings Growth

Wednesday, February 6, 2002 7:00 am EST

Dateline:

FRAMINGHAM, Mass.

Public Company Information:

NASDAQ:
SPLS
"As a result of strong gross margin performance and continued tight expense control, Staples anticipates reporting better than expected earnings despite weak top line growth"

FRAMINGHAM, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Staples Inc. (Nasdaq:SPLS) reported today that the company expects to report strong earnings growth when it announces on March 5 the results of its recently ended fourth quarter of fiscal 2001.

Earnings per share for the quarter ended Feb. 2 are expected to exceed current Wall Street consensus estimates of $0.25 per share, before an expected charge for approximately 30 store closings and severance. The company anticipates that comparable store sales will come in slightly behind current expectations.

"As a result of strong gross margin performance and continued tight expense control, Staples anticipates reporting better than expected earnings despite weak top line growth," stated Ron Sargent, who became Staples chief executive officer Feb. 1. "The majority of the sales shortfall relates to the company's strategic decision to forego less profitable sales of computers and some electronics to consumers during the holiday season, in keeping with our `Back to Brighton' initiative, which focuses on small business customers."

Staples will report the full results of the fourth quarter and fiscal year 2001 on March 5, at which time Sargent will host a conference call and webcast. In addition to recent financial results, the new CEO expects to communicate his plans for the future of Staples.

About Staples

Staples Inc. is an $11 billion retailer of office supplies, furniture, technology and business services to consumers and businesses from home-based businesses to Fortune 500 companies in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands and Portugal. Headquartered outside Boston, Staples invented the office superstore concept and today is the largest operator of office superstores in the world. The company has over 50,000 employees serving customers through more than 1,400 office superstores, mail order catalogs, e-commerce and a contract business. More information about the company is available at http://www.staples.com.

Certain information contained in this news release constitutes forward looking statements for purposes of the safe harbor provisions of The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Actual results may differ materially from those indicated by such forward-looking statements as a result of various important factors including risks related to Staples' ability to compete in its highly competitive market, Staples' ability to continue to successfully open new stores, Staples' quarterly operating results being subject to significant fluctuation, Staples' stock price fluctuating based on the expectations of professional securities analysts, the strain on operations due to Staples' rapid growth which can affect operating results, the ability of Staples' foreign operations and Staples.com to become profitable and the ability of Staples to obtain adequate future financing. Additional information concerning these factors is contained in Staples' Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q dated December 11, 2001, which is on file with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Contact:

Investor Contact:
Laurel Lefebvre
Director of Investor Relations
Staples, Inc.
508-253-4080
or
Media Contact:
Tom Nutile
Vice President of Public Relations
Staples, Inc.
508-253-1833
or
Deborah Hohler
Public Relations Manager
Staples, Inc.
508-253-8509

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