73% profits plunge for Amazon

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Online shopping giant Amazon today said it is to take on 1,000 new staff after it revealed a shock 73% fall in profits.

The jobs, which will include both permanent and temporary staff, will be for a new fulfilment centre at Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, which will be open for Christmas 2012.

The new centre forms part of a heavy investment programme by the world's largest online retailer, which has recently unveiled a new tablet version of its Kindle electronic reader to rival Apple's iPad.

But the investment drive hit its latest quarter, as group earnings fell by 73% to $63m (£39m) in the three months to September - despite a 44% surge in global sales to $10.9bn dollars (£6.8bn).

Amazon shares plunged 12% overnight in the US as analysts said the figures were well below expectations with sentiment also hit by its forecast of a possible $200m (£125m) loss in the current quarter due to write-offs and one-off charges.

The firm added group net sales growth in the three months to December would also slow to between 27% to 44%, compared with 51% a year ago.

Chief executive Jeff Bezos said pre-orders for the new Kindle Fire tablets had already forced it to increase capacity and build "millions more" than it originally planned.

The Kindle Fire goes on sale in the US in November 15, though there is no date yet for a release in the UK.

Mr Bezos added that orders for new, upgraded versions of the original Kindle were also double the previous launch. A new, lighter version is on sale in the UK for £89.

Sales of Kindles incorporating 3G and wi-fi were Amazon's best UK seller over the past three months, with romantic novel One Day by David Nicholls the best selling book.

An electronic version of One Day also featured in the top ten sellers alongside That Summer in Ischia by Penny Feeny and Cold Kill by Neil White. Fifa 2012 was the best selling video game.

Amazon added that is it is now selling three eBooks to every one hard cover version, up from a ratio of two-to-one previously.

International sales, which include the UK as well as Germany, Japan, France, China, Spain and Italy, increased by 44% in the third quarter to 4.94 billion US dollars (£3.1bn).