NEW YORK — Leo Kahn, who co-founded Staples and helped start the age of "big box" retail stores, died Wednesday in Boston. He was 94.

Comment on this story

Kahn first made his name in the grocery business in New England. He started Staples with a former competitor, Tom Stemberg, in 1985, after they decided to go into business together and wanted new ideas outside groceries.

At the time, there were no office-supply superstores. Kahn and Stemberg were touring different types of stores each Friday afternoon and one day during a trip to warehouse clubs, they noticed an abundance of office supplies on sale.

Stemberg became CEO and Kahn, in his late 60s at the time, chairman. They started the chain the next year with investments from former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and investment firm Bain Capital.