For Staples Canada president Steve Matyas, back-to-school starts before school even lets out for the summer.
Matyas hit Newfoundland and Labrador for two days, Wednesday and Thursday, to visit the office supply company’s locations in the province as the chain gears up for its busiest time of year.
“Every year around the back-to-school time I like to visit as many of our stores as I can, to try to find out the things that have been working well in terms of how we’re flowing product into the store and find out what the issues are in terms of things that haven’t gone exactly as planned, and help the stores work through that and make sure that we’re all set to go for our busiest time of the year. We call it our Christmas.”
It’s a “monumental effort” to get stores ready for the beginning of a school year, said Matyas. When the back-to-school selling starts, stores generally double their monthly revenue.
“We start flowing product into the store backrooms (at the) beginning of June,” he said. “Because of the tremendous effort in getting the stores prepared, I kind of see my job, as well, to thank people for their Herculean efforts and for the jobs they’ve done. Much of the reason is recognition as much as it is trying to make sure we’ve got everything ready to go.”
Matyas said the manager of Staples’ Stavanger Drive location in St. John’s is already seeing people shopping for school supplies.
“It’s surprising that we seem to be getting early shopping this year.”
As far as snags this year, said Matyas, some vendors are late in shipping.
“They’re having trouble with getting product from the Orient and in some cases we’re having issues in terms of some of the displayers that aren’t holding up after a couple of weeks.
“Mostly tactical issues, and we help the stores brainstorm ways of overcoming and in some cases substituting product until the initial product arrives, or in some cases literally developing their own displayer bins and throwing away the cardboard that seems to be imploding.”
Newfoundland’s island status occasionally causes delivery headaches, acknowledged Matyas.
“There’s always an issue, both here and I think in the Territories, but we have enough experience at this and scraped our knees enough times over the years that we understand we need to increase the lead time to Newfoundland.”