Amazon in red but improved show boosts the share price ; ONLINE GIANT TAKING ON 1,500 SEASONAL JOBS IN SWANSEA [Western Mail (Wales)]
(Western Mail (Wales) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) ONLINE retail giant Amazon narrowed losses in the three months to September after action to turn around its fortunes paid off with a better than expected surge in sales.
The Seattle-based group, which is taking on 1,500 seasonal staff at its Jersey Marine depot near Swansea, posted losses of $41m (Pounds 25.3m) for the third quarter, down sharply on the $274m (Pounds 169m) seen a year earlier, as sales leapt 24%.
The world's largest online retailer, which has more than 6,000 permanent staff across its UK operations, has now posted three quarters in a row of losses after ramping up investment, but cheered investors as it said it expected fourth quarter sales to rise by another 10 to 25%.
There were also forecastbeating earnings from technology titan Microsoft overnight after the software group reported a 17% rise in third quarter net income to $5.24bn (Pounds 3.2bn).
Shares rose in after-hours New York trading for both firms following the robust figures, up 6% for Microsoft and 8% for Amazon.
Amazon boss Jeff Bezos said it had been a "busy few months" for the group after launching new Kindle e-readers and tablets, as well as expanding its warehouse network to reduce shipping costs and adding robots to boost efficiency in delivering orders.
The group gave no breakdown on figures for the UK, but Amazon.co.uk managing director Christopher North moved to defend the firm against criticism over taxes paid in Britain and the threat to high street rivals.
The group, which launched in the UK 15 years ago, said top sellers in Britain over the third quarter were video game releases Grand Theft Auto 5 and FIFA 14, as well as Kindle books such as books 'Single Woman Seeks Revenge' by author Tracy Bloom.
Microsoft's figures came as speculation continues to swirl over who will replace outgoing chief executive Steve Ballmer.
He announced in August that he would step down within 12 months, but the group gave no update on the search for his successor with the third quarter figures.
The group said revenues rose 16% in the quarter, with sales of its Surface tablets hitting $400m (Pounds 247m) as price cuts helped more than double sales quarter on quarter in a sign that it is beginning to recover after initial sluggish demand.
Christopher North, managing director of Amazon.co.uk, told the Daily Telegraph that Amazon had chosen to operate a single European business.
Amazon has 24 warehouses across Europe, including eight in the UK, that can all deliver products to British consumers.
Mr North said: "I don't think it would be possible to offer 100m distinct products in the UK if we had only set up a business in the UK.
"What we have said on tax has been very clear and very consistent, which is that we have followed all of the laws that apply to us in every jurisdiction on tax and we will continue to do so."
Amazon is in the process of moving 800 of its temporary staff in its UK depots into permanent positions as well as moving its workers from five-day eight hour shifts to four-day ten hour shifts.
The business has more than 4,500 permanent employees in its UK depots and recently announced it would hire more than 15,000 people on a temporary basis for the Christmas period.
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