By Dominique Vidalon
PARIS (Reuters) - U.S. online retail giant Amazon <AMZN.O> said on Tuesday it will create 1,800 permanent contract positions this year in France, its largest European market after Britain and Germany, although furniture retailer Conforama went the other way in cutting jobs.
The increase will bring Amazon's total number of permanent staff to 9,300 by end 2019 and reflects the group's commitment to the French market where it has invested over 2 billion euros ($2.26 billion) since 2010, the statement said.
Amazon's plan comes as Conforama, the French unit of South African retailer Steinhoff <SNHJ.J> which is in the midst of a financial restructuring, plans to cut 1,900 jobs in France.
Deputy finance minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher told Sud Radio that "traditional retail faces a very deep transformation. It is true that the coincidence of these two figures - 1,800 hires at Amazon and 1,900 job cuts at Conforama - reflects this transformation."
She said the French government will be "extremely vigilant" regarding Conforama and would look to limit its impact.
Amazon has been expanding steadily in France where it has 20 sites, including six logistics centers, the most recent slated to open over summer in Bretigny-Sur-Orge near Paris.
Amazon is the e-commerce leader in France with a market share of 17.3 percent, but its grocery market share stands at just 2 percent, according to Kantar data.
The U.S. group, which has run its Amazon Prime express delivery service in Paris since 2016, has made no secret of its desire to launch a grocery delivery service in France as part of its ambitions to expand in food retail.
In April, it expanded its partnership with French food retailer Casino <CASP.PA> with Amazon installing pick-up lockers in Casino stores and making more of the French company's products available on Amazon.
(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Leigh Thomas)