What happened

Shares of Essendant Inc. (NASDAQ:ESND), a wholesale distributor of workplace items in categories such as office facilities, industrial, automotive, and others, gained 19% on Thursday after the company confirmed Sycamore Partners made a bid to buy the company. Sycamore Partners owns Staples.

So what

Sycamore Partners owns roughly 9.9% of Essendant and made an offer to purchase the rest of the company for $11.50 per share in cash. Essendant closed at $13.10. Genuine Parts is also involved, with a prior offer for $12 per share. "We do not believe Staples' conditional, non-binding proposal to acquire Essendant for $11.50 per share in cash to be a superior proposal nor reasonably likely to lead to a superior proposal as defined under the terms of the Merger Agreement," Genuine Parts wrote in the statement, according to American City Business Journals.

Forklift with pallet of boxed goods in a warehouse.

Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

The bid from Sycamore Partners gives some insight to the future of Staples. For Staples, once a well-known and successful retailer of office supplies, bringing Essendant into the fold would indicate a push toward business-to-business retailing and further away from consumer retailing. Ultimately, the ball is in Essendant's court, and investors are happy about that.