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NAPERVILLE, IL-Still focusing on turning around its business, OfficeMax plans to explore further partnerships such as its current deal with Safeway, executives said at the company’s fourth-quarter conference call.

OfficeMax has closed 130 stores since 2006, but its branded school supplies and other items are now available at 1,600 Safeway stores.

“It’s a great way to extend our reach without the expense of brick-and-mortar,” said Sam Martin, executive vice president and chief operating officer. “We will continue to explore new opportunities.”

Meanwhile, the company plans to open 13 new units, but that expansion will be balanced by store closings for no net gain in store count. During 2008, OfficeMax opened 43 retail stores in the United States and 17 in Mexico, and closed 12 stores domestically and two in Mexico.

In addition, the company has suspended its store remodel program, and is renegotiating leases whenever co-tenancies are triggered and as stores below certain thresholds. The company’s average remaining lease length is between five and six years.

“We closed 130 stores and we only have 13 remaining where we have lease liability,” said Sam Duncan, chairman and CEO. “We have not stopped and did not stop looking at our leases, and looking at the opportunity to improve lease terms.”

For the quarter, total sales were $1,883.1 million, down 14.3% compared to the fourth quarter of 2007. Same-store sales declined 13.6%. The company reported a net loss of $396.0 million, compared to net income of $70.5 million in the prior-year quarter.

For the year, while total sales were $8.3 billion, a 9% decrease from 2007. Same-store sales dropped 10.8%. The company posted a net loss of $1.7 billion, compared with net income of $203.4 million in 2007.

OfficeMax ended 2008 with a total of 1,022 retail stores, consisting of 939 stores in the United States and 83 units in Mexico.

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