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RETAIL–Mail Boxes Etc. Predicts Expansive Growth in 2000

Mail Boxes Etc. is expecting tremendous growth for the year 2000, thanks to a partnership with eBay and an aggressive investment plan.

U.S. Office Products Co., the parent company for Mail Boxes Etc., announced March 16 that it had engaged the investment banking firm of Credit Suisse First Boston to assist in the growth of its subsidiary.

Possible transactions include an initial public offering of Mail Boxes Etc. stock, or the sale of an equity interest in Mail Boxes Etc. to one or more strategic investors, said James Amos, the company’s president and chief executive.

The firm creates a valuable “storefront” presence for Web companies. Already, eBay relies on Mail Boxes Etc. as its exclusive retail shipping solution, he said.

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Mail Boxes Etc. is the world’s largest franchise network of business service centers, more than twice the size of their five largest competitors combined, Amos said.

“With more than 4,100 locations worldwide, a customer-service culture, and our use of advanced technology, Mail Boxes Etc. is uniquely positioned to provide the physical points-of-presence needed to support E-commerce,” he said. “There has never been a more promising time in the 20-year history of Mail Boxes Etc.”

As E-commerce has exploded, meeting the fulfillment challenge has become a key factor in online business. This applies especially to returns, which Amos referred to as the “Achilles’ heel” of E-commerce.

The company also has plans to add value for its core customer base of small offices, home office workers and workers who spend most of their time on the road.

These customers consume large amounts of business services and products, making them a very attractive market, Amos said.

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