NAPERVILLE - When Office Depot merged with Office Max in 2013, the board of directors handed the job of making the new company profitable and sustainable. As part of its paring down, employees were notified this week that the company will begin laying off 1600 employees in April.
Office Max threatened to leave Illinois after its merger last year, and while State Senator John Cullerton was able to get a tax break for the company past the Illinois Senate, it stalled in the Illinois House. Soon after the deal fell through, the company announced it would abandon its Office Max headquarters in Naperville and move to the Office Depot center in Boca Raton Florida.
Carol Severson of Peru Illinois said "There were a lot of tears," this week at a company meeting when employees were told they layoffs would begin in April. "We knew something was wrong when guards were stationed outside the door." Severson said her job at an Office Max store has not yet been cut.
Rumors among Office Max employees are that while the company says it is moving to Florida, a large measure of the customer service jobs will be outsourced overseas.
In a Feb. 28 conference call with investors, Office Depot's chairman and CEO Roland Smith said the company will reduce the number of corporate positions, making its "organizational structure significantly smaller and more efficient." Changes, he said, include reducing total corporate headcount by 35 percent," AP reports.