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‘Evolving Industry’ Drives Change at United Stationers

CEO: Bringing United Stationers companies to one platform will streamline operations, expand customer options.

United Stationers Inc.'s (NASDAQ: USTR), Deerfield, IL, announcement that it will reposition itself and its partner companies as Essendant is a response to a rapidly evolving industry, according to President and CEO Cody Phipps. Phipps made the announcement at Emerge Core Live, its show for suppliers and customers, in Nashville, TN.

"Our industry is evolving rapidly, and it's being shaped by four forces," Phipps said. "The first force is the impact of the digital workplace. This, to me, is the combination of the iPad effect, cloud storage and the millennials entering the workplace. And we all know what that is doing to the consumption of office products."

The continuing shift from brick-and-mortar to e-commerce, the blurring of traditional channels and the convergence of B2B and B2C were further drivers for change, he said. "Simply put, all consumers want an Amazon-like experience when they shop online," Phipps said. "That's coming to the B2B space and we have to be prepared for it."

The competitive landscape also continues to change, including the pending merger of Staples and Office Depot and how "Amazon is building massive scale with no end in sight," two developments that reinforced the company's need to streamline its operations and provide single source for all customers.

Phipps said Essendant will diversify and expand offerings for United Stationers customers, highlighted by recent purchases of MEDCO and CPO with hints of more acquisitions to come.

Essendant will be the name of the common operating and information technology platform for all United Stationers companies, including LagasseSweet, ORS Nasco, MEDCO and CPO. Though the soft launch of the Essendant brand begins immediately, the company won't formally change its name until June when it seeks shareholder approval.

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