Amazon to create 7,000 UK jobs
Online retail giant Amazon has said it will create a further 7,000 UK jobs this year to meet growing demand.
Amazon said it had already added 3,000 roles so far in 2020, and so by the end of the year it will have created a total of 10,000 new jobs.
This will take its total permanent UK workforce to more than 40,000.
Amazon says the new jobs will be permanent and pay a minimum of £9.50 an hour. It is also recruiting 20,000 seasonal posts for the festive period.
The company has faced criticism in the past from unions over the way it treats staff and health and safety.
The coronavirus crisis and lockdowns, which saw many High Street shops temporarily closed, prompted massive growth in online shopping, benefiting online giants such as Amazon.
The latest retail sales figures showed that UK online sales in July were more than 50% higher than pre-pandemic levels in February.
Online sales as a proportion of all UK retail sales hit a record high of more than 30% in May, before falling back to more than 28% in July.
Amazon took on thousands of temporary workers during the pandemic, and it says many of them will now be able to move into these new permanent roles.
The company is recruiting at more than 50 sites. It said the creation of the new roles, which will include engineers, graduates, human resources, IT, health and safety and finance specialists, as well as the teams who will pick, pack and ship customer orders, was in response to growing customer demand.
"At the centre of the job creation programme are three new, state-of-the-art fulfilment centres in Darlington, Durham and Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, each fitted out with advanced Amazon Robotics technology and each creating more than 1,000 new permanent roles," the firm said in a statement.
"Construction of these new fulfilment centres began last year. Darlington started operations in May and the sites in Durham and Sutton-in-Ashfield will launch later this autumn."
Amazon's "huge expansion" in the UK "comes as little surprise, given the massive surge in sales the tech giant has experienced, as the e-commerce sector boomed during the pandemic," said Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.
"Despite spending billions of dollars gearing itself up to operate through the coronavirus crisis, Amazon still delivered a huge increase in profits during the second quarter.
"With expansion planned right across the UK, High Street retailers are going to have to deliver some dramatic changes if they're to compete with the king of e-commerce," she added.
The news that Amazon is creating another 7,000 permanent jobs should perhaps come as no surprise. Amazon has now quadrupled its workforce from 10,000 to 40,000 in the last five years and the onset of COVID-19 has accelerated a very clear trend towards online rather than physical retail.
Just last week, Tesco announced it was creating 16,000 new permanent posts as they reported that online sales which had taken 20 years to reach 9% of their sales took just 20 weeks to nearly double to 16%.
Both Amazon and Tesco had hired thousands of temporary workers to cope with that demand - both clearly feel this shift is permanent.
At a time when many people are losing their jobs - announcements of thousands of new jobs are welcome. But the rise and rise of Amazon has been mirrored by the decline and recent fall in overall retail employment.
As Amazon has added 30,000 jobs in five years, The Office for National Statistics says there are 106,000 fewer total retail jobs over the same period which doesn't even include the COVID impact.
Amazon is often criticised for paying too little tax but taxes are levied on profits and Amazon's retail business works on close to zero profit margins. That is very hard to compete with.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said the pandemic had been a "challenging time for many businesses" but that the new Amazon jobs were "hugely encouraging".
Many firms - especially High Street retailers - have been cutting jobs in recent months, due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and as the government's jobs retention scheme starts to wind down.
The number of employees on UK payrolls fell by 730,000 between March to July, according to the most recent figures.
However, while many sectors have been hit hard, some companies have been recruiting.
Courier firm DPD and B&Q owner Kingfisher said in June that they would be hiring thousands more staff.
Supermarkets, which saw a surge in demand for online deliveries due to the pandemic, have also been hiring.
Tesco said in August that it would create 16,000 permanent jobs after lockdown led to "exceptional growth" in its online business.