Wednesday September 26, 2012

FRAMINGHAM (AP) -- Staples is speeding up the closure of about 15 of its U.S. stores and plans to close 45 stores and some delivery businesses in Europe.

The office products company also says it will invest more in its online and mobile efforts and will expand the product assortment that it offers to its business customers.

Neither the Pittsfield store in Berkshires Crossing nor the Great Barrington store on Main Street appear to be affected by the moves, according to customer service representatives.

Staples Inc. said Tuesday that these moves and other actions are part of a strategic plan to better serve customers’ needs and accelerate growth.

Staples is trying to adapt to the evolving needs of its customers. Last month the company reported that its second-quarter net income fell as sales of computers, software, and basic office supplies softened. Computer sales have been pressured by the introduction to many offices of the computer tablet and other mobile devices. Traffic is also down at Staples’ stores and Europe continues to be a weak spot.

The chain expects the U.S. store closings will result in a charge of about $35 million in the fourth quarter. For fiscal 2012, it anticipates about 30 U.S. store closings. Staples also expects 30 stores will be scaled down and stores being relocated.

In Europe, the store closures are expected to occur before the end of fiscal 2012. The company has also tapped John Wilson to serve as president of Staples Europe. Wilson succeeds Rob Vale, who is retiring.

Berkshire Eagle staff writer Adam Poulisse contributed to this report.