Janet Schijns Parts Ways with Office Depot as Pivot to Services Continues to Unfold
Office Depot, the traditional office supply retailer-turned-IT services provider, has confirmed reports that Janet Schijns, executive vice president and chief services and solution officer, has left the organization.
Schijns, who had previously run channels at Verizon, and CEO Gerry Smith both joined the company in 2017 as the board was reshuffling management and doubling down on a services play in an attempt to turn around several consecutive years of dismal financial performance. That fall, Smith told investors that the company wanted to “grow a dependable sticky revenue services-based model over a period of time that sells both services and products.”
Office Depot had already begun to evolve its retail locations into service centers beyond the printing and copying it had been offering for years. But in an era where every company is a tech company, it had to bite the bullet and plunge into IT. Three months after Schijns joined the team, the company announced a $1 billion deal to acquire IT services provider CompuCom. Post-acquisition, her responsibilities grew to include building a services business that catered to the same community she’d spent her career building: business owners, IT consultants, managed service providers and telco agents.
The company’s pivot to IT services geared toward the SMB is paying off. While retail sales continue to decline, they’re more than offset by increased performance by its business solutions division. The company’s strengthened third-quarter 2018 fiscal results announced last November prompted a 24 percent jump in its stock price. There’s not much bad news coming out of Office Depot’s business-services division these days, so Schijns’ departure came as a surprise to many.
By the time 2018 came to a close, Schijns’ role had expanded drastically. Originally brought on as a senior vice president to lead Office Depot’s copy, print and tech divisions, she was promoted to executive VP six months into her tenure, with the mandate to bring the products and services businesses together. Then came the responsibility to integrate the CompuCom SMB teams; build both a direct and indirect sales channel; lead the company’s managed and tech services; and run its merchandising efforts. Schijns handed responsibility for the growing channel services business to Heather Tenuto, president of sales, SMB service. Tenuto previously was channel chief at ShoreTel (acquired in 2017 by Mitel). Under Tenuto’s watch, Office Depot has signed deals with master agents including MicroCorp and inked a distribution pact with Google and Nest for CompuCom technicians to install smart devices for SMBs.
Both Schijns and Office Depot are staying relatively tight-lipped about the reasons behind the split.
“Janet Schijns has left Office Depot,” Danny Jovic, Office Depot’s director of communications, told Channel Futures. “Our focus and commitment to business services through our Workonomy platform has not changed.”
Workonomy is Office Depot’s suite of business services that partners can offer customers.
Despite its improving performance, there are still problem areas within the company. In its third-quarter call last November, investors learned that CompuCom’s sales had dropped by 4 percent. Joseph Lower, Office Depot’s CFO and executive vice president, offered several reasons for the decline, including a large customer going through a reorganization, an unfavorable product mix, investments in growth initiatives, administrative inefficiencies and …