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BOCA RATON, FL-Office Depot is done with major store closures in the US, executives said at the company’s first-quarter conference call. During the quarter, the company closed 107 units and relocated one store.

But mass closings have been completed, said. Office Depot will open 12 or fewer stores in North America this year, said Chuck Rubin, president of North American retail.

“We’re making progress on rent concessions as we rein in our occupancy costs,” Rubin said.

Internationally, the company will complete its exit from the retail channel in Japan by the end of August. Seven of the chain’s 27 stores have closed and the rest will be closing over the next three to four months. Catalog offerings will still be available said Charles E. Brown, president of International.

The chain will pursue expansion through joint ventures, including opening two franchise units in Kuwait, with plans eventually to open 25 stores in the region.

“We are looking for opportunities to leverage Office Depot with local operators,” Brown said.

Total company sales were $3.2 billion, down 19% from the first quarter of 2008. North American comparable-store sales declined 17%. International sales declined 24%, while sales in local currency dropped 9%. The company reported a net loss of $55 million, compared to earnings of $69 million in the prior-year period.

Office Depot operates 1,604 worldwide retail stores in 48 countries.

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