Amazon continues rapid UK expansion

Amazon.com Inc has announced that it plans to open a distribution centre in Bristol in 2018, continuing the rapid expansion that saw its investments in the UK triple last year to over 400 million pounds.

Britain is Amazon's third-largest market outside North America, with sales of $9.5 billion last year -- up almost 20 percent in sterling terms on 2015. The U.S. group already plans to open four additional distribution, or fulfilment, centres this year, in addition to the 12 operating at the end of last year.

Amazon said it intended to hire an additional 1,000 workers at the Bristol plant on permanent contracts. Following criticism from politicians about weak worker protection, the company has been increasingly employing its warehouse staff directly, rather than indirectly via contract firms which offer little employment security.

Amazon invested about 850 million pounds in the UK from 2010 to 2016, accounts for its UK subsidiaries show. Increased use of robot technology contributed to the high capex spend last year, a spokesman said.

The company said that, including operating costs, Amazon had spent 6.4 billion pounds ($8.3 billion) in the UK since 2010, against sales of around 33 billion pounds.