Amazon expands the size of UK HQ despite Brexit
It joins Facebook, Snap and Google in doubling down on Britain
Jeremy Clarkson, presenter of Amazon’s ‘Grand Tour’. The company is expanding its UK operations.
Amazon is expanding the size of its new UK headquarters to support the growth of its Prime Video service in Europe.
The world’s largest online retailer will occupy the entire 15 floors of the newly constructed tower on the edge of the City of London, after initially having planned to only take 11. The additional space will house 450 new research and development recruits for its on-demand movie service.
“The UK is a fantastic place to find talent and we feel good about building a global R&D centre here,” Doug Gurr, head of Amazon’s UK business, said at the opening of the site. “We’re very confident we’ll be able to recruit everyone we need.”
Amazon joins a list of large US tech firms, including Snap, Facebook and Google, in doubling down on London expansion plans ahead of the UK’s departure from the European Union. As investment banks plot relocating some operations away from the City of London, landlords are overhauling workspace historically occupied by financial firms in a bid to attract tech companies.
Amazon is expanding its space in the new building, which features a roof garden and surrounded by new cafes and restaurants, amid nervousness in the property market created by uncertainty over the nature of the UK’s divorce from the EU. London office vacancies climbed to 5.8 per cent at the end of the first quarter from 3.9 per cent a year earlier, the biggest increase since 2009, according to Deloitte.
Amazon made Prime Video available as a standalone service in April last year as part of its strategy of retaining customers by acquiring the rights to movies and TV shows, or producing them on its own. Manchester by the Sea a family tragedy set in Massachusetts and produced by Amazon, won two Academy Awards this year. The release day of The Grand Tour, featuring the former stars of BBC’s Top Gear, prompted more Amazon Prime signups than any day outside of a special sale event.
The UK is among Amazon’s largest international markets with more than 22,000 full-time staff based in the country. Amazon plans to have at least 24,000 by the end of the year, double the number it had at the end of 2015.
The Seattle-based company is also testing its drone delivery services in the UK due to a more lenient regulatory environment. The first shipment was in December, dropping off a bag of popcorn and a Fire TV streaming device to a house in the English countryside 13 minutes after receiving the online order.