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Staples Launches First-Tier Supplier Diversity Partner Program

Monday, October 28, 2002 7:00 am EST

Dateline:

FRAMINGHAM, Mass.

Public Company Information:

NASDAQ:
SPLS
"We're excited to partner with Staples to serve the expanding needs of our long-standing customers as well as new customers"

FRAMINGHAM, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Staples, Inc. (Nasdaq: SPLS), today announced its First-Tier supplier diversity partner program helping Fortune 1000 and other large-sized business customers reach their purchasing goals from minority- and women-owned business enterprise (MWBE) suppliers. This innovative supplier diversity program is based on a network of highly respected MWBE office supply providers that leverages their individual strengths, providing customers with the service and scope they require from a national MWBE program.

According to the National Minority Supplier Development Council, minority businesses represent only 15 percent of total businesses and 4 percent of total corporate purchases. At the same time, corporations spent more than $50 billion in 2001, up from approximately $45 billion in 2000, in the procurement of goods and services from minority-owned businesses.

"As large companies look to maximize their MWBE spending across their businesses, our First-Tier partner program, with its network of high quality providers, helps our customers reach their specific MWBE spending goals," said Jim Dorman, vice president of marketing for Staples Contract. "In turn, our program allows our partners to expand their business nationwide, supplement their scope of services and support the needs of their customers across many regions."

Staples is partnering with MWBEs that have demonstrated commitments to minority business development and to their local communities. Staples worked closely with the National Minority Supplier Development Council and local councils to develop this innovative program that also helps keep business dollars within partners' local communities. The charter First-Tier partners are Alpha Office Supplies, Proftech Office Products and Tejas Office Products.

"The Staples team understands how to build a strong partnership--one with the customer in mind first and foremost," said James Brown, President and CEO of Alpha Office Supplies, Inc. "Alpha has based its business on being first in service with a personal touch. This partnership will help fuel our growth as Staples shares their business experience including sales support and best practices like total cost management."

Through Staples diversity partner program, partner suppliers benefit from Staples' business mentorship, total cost management expertise, industry-leading account management, e-commerce expertise and nationwide distribution and fulfillment services.

Jose Montiel, President of Proftech, remarked, "For over 20 years Proftech has been driven by our focus on service excellence. As we look to our future, we're proud to partner with industry leader, Staples. Customer service and operational excellence are the hallmarks of Proftech's success. Staples exemplifies this excellence on a larger scale. Working closely with Staples enhances our ability to serve all customers regionally and nationally."

"We're excited to partner with Staples to serve the expanding needs of our long-standing customers as well as new customers," said Lupe Fraga, President and CEO of Tejas Office Products. "Based on our shared business values, this partnership will allow Tejas to benefit from and grow with Staples' industry expertise and unique approach to fulfilling customer needs."

Staples First-Tier supplier diversity program builds upon the company's long-standing Second-Tier MWBE program which offers Staples Contract customers the ability to access a wide selection of quality MWBE products. Since 1993, Staples North American Delivery has been committed to utilizing minority, women-owned and disadvantaged businesses in all aspects of the its operations to increase business performance and stimulate economic development. To learn more about Staples diversity programs, visit www.staplescentral.com/mwbe.asp.

About Staples First-Tier Supplier Diversity Partners

Alpha Office Supplies offers a complete range of office products, and has received numerous awards and commendations. Established in 1985, Alpha is the largest minority office products dealer in the eastern region. Proftech is a 22-year veteran of the office products industry serving small accounts to the Fortune 500 throughout the country. Proftech is a recipient of the Hispanic Businessman of the Year award from the National Hispanic Business Group, and is one of the country's largest Hispanic-owned businesses. Tejas Office Products has served the business community for forty years and is one of the largest independent office products companies in Texas. Tejas recently received the 2002 MWBE Supplier of the Year Award from Shell Oil Company and was recognized in 2001 as Supplier of the Year by the Houston Minority Business Council.

About Staples Contract

Staples Contract provides office supply solutions to medium- and large-sized organizations, including many Fortune 500 companies. The business, with industry-leading double-digit growth, works collaboratively with its customers enabling procurement professionals to efficiently manage highly cost-effective custom procurement programs. Staples is a member of the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), an organization that certifies and supports minority-owned businesses and helps corporate members develop minority business development programs.

About Staples

Staples, Inc. is an $11 billion retailer of office supplies, business services, furniture and technology to consumers and businesses from home-based businesses to Fortune 500 companies in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, 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 approximately 55,000 associates 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.

Contact:

Staples, Inc.
Owen Davis, 508/253-8468
or
MS&L
Nicole Fachet, 212/213-7140

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