Amazon’s European expansion gathered steam with the announcement yesterday that it was to add a further 500 employees to its Irish workforce.
The staff will be hired in the coming two years, with the online retail giant looking software engineers, data centre technicians, and customer support staff, among others.
Having started as a data centre and networking hub, the company’s operations have expanded to include a much wider range of staff which support its retail operations and web services divisions, among others.
Such has been its experience in Ireland, where it already employs 2,200 staff, Amazon has surpassed even its own expectations of growth, according to the company’s general manager in Ireland, Jeff Caselden.
“We have already exceeded our previous talent growth targets for Ireland set in 2014, which is testament to the abundance of expertise we have been able to find in the country,” Mr Caselden said.
“We’ve been an active member of the Irish technology community for over a decade now and Ireland’s creative culture and the diverse set of technical skills we’re able to recruit for here, make it an ideal location for our rapidly expanding business. Some of our most exciting creations we have at Amazon stem from the work we do here for our customers.”
It’s not just Ireland that Amazon has taken a shine to, though.
A quick look across Europe shows Amazon has sizeable operations in France, Germany, Sweden, and the UK, as well as Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Since 2010, Amazon has invested over €15bn in Europe and at the start of this year had more than 40,000 EU employees, with 10,000 jobs created last year alone.
Then, of course, there is Luxembourg, where the company employs 1,000 permanent staff but where the EU’s glare has also been focussed.
The European Commission took a particular interest in Amazon’s tax affairs in the tiny European nation, just as it did in Ireland’s relationship with Apple.
Specifically, Brussels is trying to work out whether a deal struck in 2003 allowed Amazon to lock in a favourably low rate of corporation tax.
Recent reports have suggested that the company could face a bill in the region of €400m in the coming months.
It is against this backdrop of scrutiny over its tax arrangements and criticism of working conditions at its vast warehouses where many of those 40,000 employees are employed — criticism it refutes — that the company is looking to increase its European footprint.
Talent is undoubtedly a factor in Amazon’s presence across the continent but putting its best foot forward for European authorities to see has likely played its part too.
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