A skeleton crew is struggling to keep the St. Thomas OfficeMax outlet running smoothly in the wake of the sudden departure of a large number of its staff.
Customers have reported unusually long lines at the check-out. In some instances, customers said, staff apologized for the delays and explained that they were short-staffed because representatives from “corporate” had visited recently and fired numerous employees. One customer said she was told 13 employees had been let go.
A corporate spokeswoman said Friday that there are no plans to close either the St. Thomas or the St. Croix stores.
“We have had some turnover at that (the St. Thomas) store,” said Nicole Miller, manager of public relations for OfficeMax. “This isn’t a matter of lay-offs.”
She declined to characterize the staff departures as anything but “turnover” or to elaborate further. She could not immediately confirm the exact number. However, she said, “We are in fact seeking to fill those positions.”
OfficeMax operates two outlets in the Virgin Islands, the St. Thomas store in Estate Tutu and the St. Croix outlet in Sunny Isle Shopping Center. The St. Croix outlet was not affected by the action.
According to its website, the office supply chain runs more than 1,000 stores in the United States and Mexico, with roughly 900 of them in the U.S. It maintains distribution centers in 17 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The company reported annual sales of $4.3 billion in both 2006 and 2007. In 2008, the most recent year listed, the sales were $4.0 billion.
Its corporate headquarters are in Naperville, Illinois, near Chicago.