Ama­zon picks Mel­bourne site for first ware­house Down Un­der

New Straits Times - - Business -

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

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