FRAMINGHAM, Mass. - Staples will close up to 225 stores in the U.S. and Canada by the end of next year as it seeks to trim about $500 million in costs annually by 2015.

The nation's largest office-supply retailer said Thursday that nearly half of its sales are now generated online, so it will aggressively cut costs to become more efficient.

Company shares dropped more than 10 per cent before markets opened.

The recession did heavy damage to the industry, which is now under increasing pressure from online retailers as well as discount stores.

There is rapid consolidation under way and rivals Office Depot and OfficeMax just completed a $1.2 billion merger.

But the overhead costs of running 'big box" stores has put companies like Staples under stress.

The closings amount to 10 per cent of all Staples locations. The company has 2,200 stores worldwide, 1,500 of them in the United States and 331 of them in Canada.

It is unclear how many jobs will be lost or what locations will be shuttered.

The company did not immediately return a call from The Associated Press early Thursday.

Staples also posted fourth-quarter earnings and sales fell sharply.

The company's earnings nearly tripled, but that is compared to a period when it booked $176.6 million in restructuring charges as it closed stores.

Staples earned $212.4 million, or 33 cents per share, in the quarter that ended Feb. 1. That compares with earnings of $78.1 million, or 12 cents per share, the previous year.

Revenue slumped nearly 11 per cent to $5.87 billion.

Both revenue and profit fell short of Wall Street expectations, as did the company's outlook for this quarter.

Staples expects sales to fall again and it projected earnings of between 17 and 22 cents per share. Analysts that follow the company had been looking for something closer to 27 cents per share.

Staples shares fell $1.35 to $12.05 in premarket trading. That price would set a new 52-week low during regular trading.

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  • Target Canada's Empty Shelves

    Belus Capital says it's a bad sign that a brand-new retailer like Target Canada is already discounting products by 90 per cent. Source: <a href="http://beluscapitaladvisors.com/2014/01/22/25-new-omg-photos-target-canada/">Belus Capital</a>

  • Target Canada's Empty Shelves

    Source: <a href="http://beluscapitaladvisors.com/2014/01/22/25-new-omg-photos-target-canada/">Belus Capital</a>

  • Target Canada's Empty Shelves

    Source: <a href="http://beluscapitaladvisors.com/2014/01/22/25-new-omg-photos-target-canada/">Belus Capital</a>

  • Target Canada's Empty Shelves

    Even food products are in short supply. Source: <a href="http://beluscapitaladvisors.com/2014/01/22/25-new-omg-photos-target-canada/">Belus Capital</a>

  • Target Canada's Empty Shelves

    Source: <a href="http://beluscapitaladvisors.com/2014/01/22/25-new-omg-photos-target-canada/">Belus Capital</a>

  • Target Canada's Empty Shelves

    Source: <a href="http://beluscapitaladvisors.com/2014/01/22/25-new-omg-photos-target-canada/">Belus Capital</a>

  • Target Canada's Empty Shelves

    Another bad sign: The "cheap chic" items that are such huge sellers for Target in the U.S. are seen here marked for clearance. Source: <a href="http://beluscapitaladvisors.com/2014/01/22/25-new-omg-photos-target-canada/">Belus Capital</a>

  • Target Canada's Empty Shelves

    Source: <a href="http://beluscapitaladvisors.com/2014/01/22/25-new-omg-photos-target-canada/">Belus Capital</a>

  • Target Canada's Empty Shelves

    Source: <a href="http://beluscapitaladvisors.com/2014/01/22/25-new-omg-photos-target-canada/">Belus Capital</a>

  • Target Canada's Empty Shelves

    Source: <a href="http://beluscapitaladvisors.com/2014/01/22/25-new-omg-photos-target-canada/">Belus Capital</a>

  • NEXT:

    CUSTOMER SATISFACTION RANKINGS

  • WORST: Target Canada - 27%

    Percentage of respondents who said they were "very satisfied" with the store in question. Source: Forum Research

  • The Bay - 40%

    Percentage of respondents who said they were "very satisfied" with the store in question. Source: Forum Research

  • Walmart Canada - 40%

    Percentage of respondents who said they were "very satisfied" with the store in question. Source: Forum Research

  • BEST: Costco - 62%

    Percentage of respondents who said they were "very satisfied" with the store in question. Source: Forum Research

  • Also on HuffPost:

    HOW TARGET CANADA'S PRICES STACK UP WITH THE U.S.

  • How Target's Canadian Prices Stack Up To U.S. Prices

  • Women's Merona Emilia Espadrille Sandals

    C$29.99 in Toronto and US$29.99 on the U.S website.

  • Gilligan O'Malley Women's Knit Pajama

    C$24.99 in Canadian sstores and US$24.99 on the U.S. website.

  • Mossimo Women's Ponte Boyfriend Jacket

    C$39.99 in Toronto and US$29.99 on the U.S. website.

  • Bird-Bead-Wavy Disc Earrings Trio

    C$9.99 in Canadian stores and US$7.99 on the American website.

  • Mossimo Supply Co. Men's Short Sleeve Tee Shirt

    C$9.99 in-store and marked down from US$9.99 to $7.49 on the U.S. website.

  • Mossimo Supply Co. Men's Long Sleeve Poplin Workshirt

    C$24.99 in Target's Toronto store and marked down from US$22.99 to $17.24 on the U.S. website.

  • Ridel Vivant Pinot Noir Tumblers - Set of 2

    $C24.99 in Toronto but US$19.99 at Target.com.

  • Giada De Laurentiis 12' Non-Stick Frying Pan

    C$39.99 compared to US$35.49 (online price).

  • Soda Stream 60L CO2 Spare Carbonator

    C$34.99 in the Toronto store and US$29.99 on the American site.

  • Target Canada Opens Stores In Ontario

    Previously on HuffPost: Target Canada Opens Stores In Ontario

  • Target Opens In Canada

    A Canada flag flies on a customer's car parked in front of the new Target store in Guelph, Ont. on Tuesday March 5, 2013. Target's expansion into Canada is continuing in big way over the next two weeks as the American retailer opens 21 new stores in Ontario.

  • Target Opens In Canada

    Tony Fisher, President of Target Canada, speaks to the media during a tour of the new Target store in Guelph, Ontario. Target announced that it is opening three pilot stores in Guelph, Fergus and Milton, Ontario March 5, 2013, the first of 124 Target stores to open in Canada, Media were given a preview tour, Monday, March 4, 2013.

  • Target Opens In Canada

    Employees work on preparing the new Target store in Guelph, Ontario. Target announced that it is opening three pilot stores in Guelph, Fergus and Milton, Ontario March 5, 2013, the first of 124 Target stores to open in Canada, Media were given a preview tour, Monday, March 4, 2013.

  • Target Opens In Canada

    Employees welcome the first shoppers who lined up for the new Target store in in Guelph, Ont. on Tuesday March 5, 2013. The company is expected to open between 125 and 135 locations in Canada.

  • Target Opens In Canada

    Hundreds of shoppers wait for the opening of the new Target store in in Guelph, Ont. on Tuesday March 5, 2013. The company is expected to open between 125 and 135 locations in Canada.

  • Target Opens In Canada

    Tony Fisher, President of Target Canada, speaks to the media during a tour of the new Target store in Guelph, Ontario. Target announced that it is opening three pilot stores in Guelph, Fergus and Milton, Ontario March 5, 2013, the first of 124Target stores to open in Canada, Media were given a preview tour, Monday, March 4, 2013.

  • Target Opens In Canada

    Employees work on preparing the new Target store in Guelph, Ontario. Target announced that it is opening three pilot stores in Guelph, Fergus and Milton, Ontario March 5, 2013, the first of 124 Target stores to open in Canada, Media were given a preview tour, Monday, March 4, 2013.

  • Target Opens In Canada

    Employees work on preparing the new Target store in Guelph, Ontario. Target announced that it is opening three pilot stores in Guelph, Fergus and Milton, Ontario March 5, 2013, the first of 124 Target stores to open in Canada, Media were given a preview tour, Monday, March 4, 2013.

  • Target Opens In Canada

    Shopper Sam Skelhorn waits in a tent for the opening of the new Target store in in Guelph, Ont. on Tuesday March 5, 2013. The company is expected to open between 125 and 135 locations in Canada.

  • Target Opens In Canada

    Hundreds of shoppers wait for the opening of the new Target store in in Guelph, Ont. on Tuesday March 5, 2013. The company is expected to open between 125 and 135 locations in Canada.

  • Target Opens In Canada

    Employees welcome the first shoppers who lined up for the new Target store in in Guelph, Ont. on Tuesday March 5, 2013. The company is expected to open between 125 and 135 locations in Canada.

  • Target Opens In Canada

    Hundreds of shoppers wait for the opening of the new Target store in in Guelph, Ont. on Tuesday March 5, 2013. The company is expected to open between 125 and 135 locations in Canada.

  • Target Opens In Canada

    First customers Scott Lester (left) and Sam Skelhorn exit the new Target store with their purchases in Guelph, Ont. on Tuesday March 5, 2013. The company is expected to open between 125 and 135 locations in Canada.