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FRAMNINGHAM, MA-Staples will work to expand in one new market a year where it currently does not have a presence, executives said yesterday during their quarterly conference call. Denver, Houston and Miami are among the 11 major markets where the office supplies retailer does not have a significant presence.

“The Chicago entry so far is really encouraging for us in terms of our ability to build out the rest of the markets Staples is not in,” says Michael Miles, chief operating officer. Staples entered the Chicago market last year and currently operates 15 stores there, one-third of the potential executives forecast for the market.

The end of this month and the beginning of September will be a big selling cycle for the retailer, when the back-to-school season starts, and Staples could face more competition than before from discounters like Target and Wal-Mart, says Miles. “We are seeing more aggressive competition from some of the mass chains than we have in the past,” he says.

During the company’s Q2, which ended on July 30, Staples opened 14 stores in the US and seven in Canada. The retailer is on target this year to open 100 North American units, 75 domestically and 25 north of the border. The company operates 1,462 stores in North America, as well as 254 in Europe.

The company’s same-store sales were up 3% year-over-year during the quarter, while total revenues were up 12%, to nearly $3.5 billion. Net income rose as well, by 20%, to $147 million.

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