US-based office supply store chain Staples has reported a decline in total sales to $24.38bn for the financial year 2012.

The figures represent a 1% decline in sales when compared to the 12-month period of the 2011 fiscal.

Staples also posted a net loss of $161m for the year contrasted against a net income of $988m in 2011.

Losses for the retailer were primarily attributed to a $50m in after-tax loss from discontinued operations related to European Printing Systems business that included $25m in charges related to restructuring and incremental tax expense.

Staples chairman and chief executive officer Ron Sargent said that economic climate was difficult through the year and that the company a serious effort in the fourth quarter of the fiscal to manage its expenses.

"We took important steps in 2012 to reposition the company," noted Sargent.

Staples’ international sales for the year were down 10.2% to $4.42bn with Australia and Europe reporting particularly weak sales.

The retailer closed 49 underperforming stores in Europe and added one new outlet as comparable store sales in the region declined 9% for the year.

Looking ahead to 2013, the company expects a single-digit growth rate in sales while generating a free cash flow of $900m for the year.

"We successfully launched our new strategic plan and made solid progress on our reinvention. We look forward to building on our momentum throughout 2013," concluded Sargent.