Office supplies giant Staples, Inc. has beaten the competition, topping rivals Office Depot and OfficeMax to become the largest office supplies retailer. So the company management has set its sights on new competition: Kinko’s.

During a recent investor conference, president of U.S. stores Demos Paneros announced that Staples is going after the copy and print-center market dominated by FedEx Kinko’s and plans to open four small Copy & Print Shops in the Boston area in the next month as a first U.S. test. (Staples tested the concept under the Dossier brand in Montreal.)

The shops will take Staples’ existing Copy & Print Center store-within-a-store concept, which offers faxing, photocopying, color printing, engraving, document design and shipping services into its own boxes. The Copy & Print Shops will be standalones containing between 3,500 square feet and 4,000 square feet of space. Staples expects each location to bring in from $600,000 to $2 million in annual sales. The centers have previously delivered about $350,000 a year.
Staples officials did not return calls seeking additional comment.

In addition to Kinko’s, Staples’ competition in the market will include a small franchise chain Alpha Graphics and UPS Stores, although the latter concentrates on shipping rather than copying.

Retail analysts were happy to note Staples’ desire to capitalize on new opportunities. Prudential Equity Group analyst Mark J. Rowen wrote in his report that Staples continues to be the “best-in-class retailer in the office supplies category” and Morningstar analyst Anthony Chukumba noted that he expects Staples to continue to increase the lead over its rivals. In addition to the stand-alone Copy & Print Shops initiative, the retailer plans to enter the Miami and Denver markets with more than 25 stores by the end of 2007.

-- Elaine Misonzhnik