Amazon says that its new 630,000 square foot warehouse in Baldonnel could integrate a new Amazon.ie shopping service if the company were to launch one, and says that the tech giant has a positive employment record in Ireland.
peaking to the Irish Independent, Amazon’s fulfilment centre general manager, Darragh Kelly, said that an Amazon.ie service is one of the company’s most-asked questions in Ireland.
“We don’t have anything to announce about that at the moment,” he said.
“But technically, we would have nothing to do to integrate it with this new fulfilment centre.”
At present, most Irish shoppers are required to use Amazon.co.uk with sterling as their shopping currency if they want to use the company’s Prime membership features related to free delivery.
Mr Kelly also said that it only took a few months to hire 500 employees for the fulfilment centre, which holds “millions” of products for delivery and is as big as seven full-sized football pitches..
“Our starting hourly wage of €13.50 is above the living wage and attrition is extremely low,” he said. “We have a lot of benefits such as health insurance, pension plans, nearly free food and good communication with managers. We’ve had zero issues hiring into all of our roles. ”
Mr Kelly said that “the conversation has moved on” from allegations of staff mistreatment in Amazon’s US warehouses and delivery vans a few years ago.
He said that staff had a right to join a union as they wished, but could not say whether any employees were current union members. He said that 150 people have so far availed of the company’s college tuition offer, paying up to €12,000 for courses, whether or not they’re related to their Amazon careers.
The fulfilment centre’s staff is made up of pickers, packers and customer service employees, as well as operations managers, engineers and HR and IT workers.
Staff such as pickers typically work four 10-hour shifts per week at the new fulfilment centre, which is open 24 hours a day.
The warehouse does not use picker robots, as some facilities in the US and UK do, as it deals with large items such as PC monitors.
The new fulfilment centre is the biggest warehouse Amazon has built in Ireland to date, having opened a delivery centre in nearby Rathcoole two years ago. Its actual floor space is a multiple of the 630,000 square foot plot, as it has five floors.
Mr Kelly said that despite already storing “millions” of products, the fulfilment centre is still only 50pc occupied as it “builds out” its inventory.
“Having this facility here has shortened delivery times in Ireland by as much as 50pc,” he said. “It makes it much easier to guarantee fast delivery as items aren’t subject to possible delays on things like ferries.”
However, Mr Kelly declined to say whether same-day delivery, a feature in the US and UK, was imminent in Ireland because of the fulfilment centre being opened here.
He said that the fulfilment centre does not yet deliver the majority of items ordered by Irish Amazon customers, which is measured “in the hundreds of thousands”. The fulfilment centre is not limited to Irish deliveries, he said, but also feeds into Amazon’s delivery logistics for the rest of Europe.
“You might have something located here that is the fastest point to get to a customer in Spain,” he said. “It’s all about just getting things to customers in the quickest possible times.”
Mr Kelly declined to say how many Amazon Prime shopping members there are in Ireland, but said that the global figure is 200m.
He also said that Amazon is not out to squash local retailers.
“I think a lot of other retailers have now pushed their online options,” he said. “I think the pandemic probably supercharged it. A lot of companies who may have been just touching the surface have now gone full in. There’s a balance. In Ireland, we have around 1,200 small sellers who are operating solely through Amazon.”
Amazon has been in Ireland since 2004, when it started planning a customer service centre for Cork in 2006. In 2007, its sister firm, Amazon Web Services, opened a base in Ireland and now employs over 2,000 people.
The company claims that its activities in Ireland has led to 8,700 direct and indirect jobs here, as well as €7.5bn in GDP activity.
Tanaiste Leo Varadkar visited the new fulfilment centre today, where he was given a tour of the facility and met local staff.
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