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Amazon ‘to cut hundreds of US jobs’ in Seattle as part of strategy shift

Josie Cox

Amazon is reportedly slashing hundreds of jobs across its consumer business in its home city of Seattle – a move designed to help the e-commerce giant shift its focus to fast-growing business areas like voice-activated Alexa.

Citing a person familiar with the matter, Reuters on Monday reported that the job cuts would be in the “low hundreds”. The agency said that it was not immediately clear which teams would be affected. Its consumer units include its retail and marketplace businesses, and its food delivery service Amazon Restaurants.

Amazon has expanded globally at a break-neck pace in recent years. According to Reuters, it created around 130,000 jobs worldwide last year. It’s announced plans to open a second headquarters in the US, which could create an additional 50,000 jobs.

In the fourth quarter of its financial year, its full-time and part-time headcount rose by 66 per cent to 566,000. That number also includes the employees of Whole Foods. Amazon agreed to buy the high end grocer in a nearly $14bn deal in summer last year.

Reuters reported that new hires were largely going into areas of high growth, like Amazon Web Services and voice-controlled computing, like home assistant Alexa.

Earlier in February, chief executive Jeff Bezos said that the company’s 2017 projections for Alexa were “very optimistic” and that the company had “far exceeded them”.

“We don’t see positive surprises of this magnitude very often — expect us to double down,” he added at the time.

Also earlier this month, Amazon reported its largest ever profit in history of nearly $2bn, particularly helped by luring customers to its Prime fast-shipping club. Prime saw more than 4 million sign-ups in one week alone during the quarter to the end of December, and revenue from subscription fees grew 49 per cent to $3.2bn, Amazon said.

In the UK, Amazon has also been on a rampant hiring drive over the past year. Last February, it said that it intends to expand its workforce in Britain by 5,000 shrugging off any uncertainty unleashed by Brexit.