The Federal Trade Commission decided that the merged company would unfairly increase office supply prices despite competition from Office Max, because Office Max did not have stores in many of the local markets that the merger would affect.
Staples argued that chains such as Walmart and Circuit City represented significant competition, but this argument did little to sway the FTC.
In August 2018, the chain closed some of its stores under a company voluntary arrangement, and underwent a management buyout the following month.
In March 2019, Office Outlet went into administration, citing that it had "recently experienced a reduction in credit from key suppliers, given the economic outlook which has severely impacted the financial position of the company." Following the aborted acquisition, Staples began to reposition its operations by promoting itself as a "solutions partner" for the business market, and placing a stronger focus on its B2B-oriented delivery and e-commerce businesses.
In November 2016, it was announced that Staples had sold its 106 British stores to Hilco Capital for a "nominal" amount, as part of an effort to streamline its international operations following the failed merger.
Hilco stated that it would discontinue the Staples brand in the region; the stores were rebranded as "Office Outlet", a new brand retaining the Staples chain's red and white color scheme.A frustration with the reliance on small stores for critical supplies combined with Stemberg's background in the grocery business led to a vision for an office supply superstore.The first store was opened in the Brighton neighborhood of Boston in 1986.In May 2017, the chain began a new advertising campaign with the slogan "It's Pro Time", which largely downplayed its retail operations.As part of the purchase, Sycamore implemented a major restructuring of the company, under which the chain's B2B business (Staples North American Delivery, also known as simply "Staples"), retail locations (Staples U. Retail), and Staples Canada would be split into three "independently managed and capitalized" entities under Sycamore.Staples started with backing from private equity firms including Bain Capital; Bain co-founder Mitt Romney served on the company's board of directors for the next 15 years, helping shape their business model.though over a decade later, all stores were renamed as "Staples".With the rebranding, CEO Sandy Douglas (who joined the company in 2018) stated that Staples was now being marketed as a "worklife fulfillment" company, which he explained was "about helping businesses of all sizes as they create the most dynamic and productive work environments for their teams." The following month, Staples U. Retail unveiled a new store concept known as "Staples Connect": it is aligned with a similar store concept being trialed by Staples Canada, featuring "Staples Studio" co-working areas and an auditorium-style "Spotlight" theater (which can be rented for sessions and events).The new concept will be trialed in the Boston area, while elements of the concept will be implemented chain-wide.The first store opened in Vaughan, Ontario, north of Toronto.The following year, Staples began expanding into Europe, and opened its first British store in Swansea.