We were told that after Brexit big international companies were all going to leave the UK. But this week, Amazon announced that it would be bringing 5,000 more jobs to Britain, and it’s not the only one.
So why is it expanding, and is the technology sector really feeling so confident?
That's a lot of jobs
Amazon is the world’s biggest online retailer, and one of its biggest companies. Its founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, is one of the richest men in the world. And it just keeps growing. The company boosted the number of full-time and part-time workers it employs globally by nearly 50% in 2016 to 341,000 – that’s the size of a medium-sized town.
Amazon’s not content with just being the world’s biggest retailer. It’s working on some pretty big new projects – last week it announced it was going to give Victoria’s Secret a run for its money and launch its own bra brand.
In fact, 500 of the new UK jobs are specifically targeting of new products, including developing Alexa, its voice-activated robot PA, Prime Video and drone delivery (things that you might think are outside of its normal retail business)
It's also opening three new fulfilment centres in the UK – where a large number of the new jobs will be coming from. Its fulfilment centres are basically a massive Amazon-only postal network – it needs enormous warehouses with huge numbers of staff based all around the world so it can get the product you order to you, quickly. It’s also trying to develop its fresh food delivery service in the UK – which makes these warehouses even more necessary.
Amazon’s biggest markets outside of the US are Japan, the UK and Germany, so it makes sense for it to be ploughing money into these areas. It has invested €15bn into Europe since 2010, and is growing its workforce every year.
So much for business leaving the UK
When the UK public decided to leave the EU, the future of international companies like Amazon and the people that work for them was one of the big fears.
Some really big companies, particularly in the financial services sector have said they will move staff out of the UK. HSBC said it was preparing to move up to 1,000 staff out of the UK and into Europe. A lot of that has to do specifically with the type of work being done – HSBC’s chief executive told Bloomberg that it was mainly the parts of the business that were specifically to do with European laws and regulation – advising clients on how to work in Europe, for example – that would be better dealt with inside Europe, which seems pretty sensible.
More generally, businesses were worried that they wouldn’t have access to the staff they need – we still don't know whether EU residents will be able to stay and work in the UK – and that if Britain left Europe without making sure it still had a good trading deal (the free market) then they would lose money when they tried to do their business.
But, for the tech sector, the UK is still a pretty good center for companies to base themselves. A huge amount of money has already been ploughed into developing it, and politicians seem pretty determined about making the UK’s tech sector the best in the world, let alone Europe.
The sector itself is still concerned though. Tech UK, which is basically a representative club for tech businesses in the UK, said that 45% of workers in tech are from overseas, and said that companies are still reliant on being able to share data throughout Europe, and trade freely.
Tech UK said that we shouldn’t get too carried away by news from Google and Amazon. They're taking a punt, basically, but we still don't actually know what's going to happen. (eye-rolling emoji for days)