Amazon picks Melbourne site for first warehouse Down Under
SYDNEY: United States retail giant Amazon.com Inc unveiled the site of its first Australian warehouse yesterday and named a German executive as country manager, signalling it is prepared for industrial strife in the world's 12th-biggest economy.
Three months after revealing plans to launch online shopfront service Amazon Marketplace in Australia, the Seattle-based retailer said it had chosen an industrial area outside the secondbiggest city Melbourne for its first warehouse.
The move sets the stage for a showdown with Australia's entrenched retail establishment such as Myer and JB HiFi, as well as with labour unions, if Amazon’s German example is anything to go by.
Amazon said it was moving its “director of consumables” for Germany, Rocco Braeuniger, to the role of Australian country manager. Employees of Amazon’s German unit went on strike in December over pay and conditions.
Tim Kennedy, national secretary of the National Union of Workers, which represents factory staff, said Braeuniger's appointment was a concern.
“We will do everything we can to ensure Amazon workers have the right to collectively bargain and organise in their union so they can continue to protect hard-won rights and conditions in Australia,” he said.
Germany is Amazon’s biggest operation outside the US.
Melbourne is an obvious choice of location for Amazon’s warehouse given its proximity to Australia’s east coast, where about four-fifths of the country’s 24 million population lives.
Australians can already buy Amazon products from offshore, but having an Amazon warehouse locally adds to pressure on the country’s brick-and-mortar retailers to protect already-fragile sales.
Another local Amazon boss, director of operations Robert Bruce, said in a statement the warehouse, about 42km from Melbourne, would stock “hundreds of thousands of products for delivery to customers across Australia”.
Meanwhile, a Chinese partner of Amazon has told customers to stop using illegal virtual private networks (VPNs), which can circumvent Internet censorship.
The instruction comes after Apple Inc removed VPN services from its Chinese app store over the weekend, amid a government crackdown on their use to dodge restrictions on access to overseas websites.
“If we discover (clients using unapproved VPNs), we will shut down services,” said a member of staff at Beijing Sinnet Technology Co Ltd, which operates Amazon’s cloud business, Amazon Web Services, in China. Reuters