Amazon set to take on grocery sector

Retail giant Amazon has begun selling chilled and frozen food products online amid speculation it is to launch a full-scale assault on the grocery market.

The US-owned firm now offers a range of 50 to 60 products to customers in London and Birmingham using its ultra-fast Prime Now service which allows items to be ordered for delivery within 60 minutes.

Among the products are low-fat butter, Cathedral City cheddar, Chicago Town pizzas, Ben & Jerry ice creams and Bird’s Eye fish fingers. They are among 10,000 products offered on the Prime Now service.

Amazon said: “Prime Now customers already benefit from ultra-fast delivery on everything from essentials like bottled water, coffee, and nappies to must-have products like the latest video games and devices.

“We are excited to be adding a range of chilled and frozen items to this selection as we continue to expand the number and variety of products that can be ordered for delivery within 60 minutes.”

But a spokesman declined to comment on a report in trade publication Retail Week that it was gearing up for a full grocery launch early next year.

A roll-out of the online delivery service could be seen as a new threat to the big four supermarkets Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, and Morrisons, already under pressure from discounters Aldi and Lidl.

There has already been speculation about such a move after it leased a former Tesco warehouse in Surrey.

Amazon came to prominence as an online bookseller before moving into a much wider range of items and even making TV shows.

It launched its Amazon Fresh food operation in the US in 2007. There has been anger over the retailer’s tax affairs. In May it emerged the firm’s UK arm paid just £11.9m (€16m) in tax last year, despite taking £5.3bn in sales from British shoppers.

It recently faced criticism over alleged poor treatment of workers in a New York Times exposé, though boss Jeff Bezos reportedly told staff in an internal email: “I don’t recognise this Amazon and I very much hope you don’t either.”

Amazon employs more than 7,000 staff in the UK.


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