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Amazon axes hundreds of staff in rare retreat

Margi Murphy
Amazon has begun notifying workers in its Seattle headquarters - AP

Amazon has made the surprise decision to cut hundreds of positions, despite recent hiring sprees.  

Most of the layoffs, said to be in the "hundreds" affect the company's Seattle headquarters but there are expected to be more redundancies worldwide, sources told the Seattle Times

The newspaper on Tuesday reported that workers, primarily in its online retail operations are already being notified that they will lose their jobs. One employee described a change in culture toward strict belt-tightening, with one manager claiming he had been briefed that owner Jeff Bezos was applying pressure to weed out low performers.

It was not immediately clear whether UK staff will be impacted but a spokesman confirmed that losses would be taking place across Amazon's global operations. 

"As part of our annual planning process, we are making head count adjustments across the company - small reductions in a couple of places and aggressive hiring in many others," a spokesman said. 

Construction on the Amazon.com campus in downtown Seattle ahead of its opening Credit: AP

"For affected employees, we work to find roles in the areas where we are hiring."

The rare decision for Amazon to cut jobs, following years of hiring sprees, comes as it hunts for a new headquarters in the US, with several cities offering themselves up as its prospective new home. Amazon promised 55,000 new jobs as part of the move. 

The company's global workforce stood at 556,000 in December, up 66pc from a year earlier, it said when it reported its quarterly earnings in February, and 130,000 of those were created in 2017.  It had more than 12,500 corporate job vacancies - roles outside of its warehouses - as of Monday. 

Amazon, along with tech giants Google and Apple, is in the running to become the first ever company to be valued at one trillion dollars, with analysts believing we could see history being made as early as this year.