Amazon is to open a new distribution centre in the Midlands creating 400 jobs.
The company said its plans for the new self-styled fulfilment centre in Rugby would open up positions for HR and IT specialists, as well as engineers.
Amazon’s announcement came as a report by the Centre for Cities warned the North and the Midlands were most at risk of losing jobs to automation and globalisation.
The think tank calculated that one in five jobs in British cities was likely to be displaced by 2030 as technology evolved.
Earlier this month, Ocado showed off the “C-3PO” robots being introduced across its own warehouses as it seeks to reduce its reliance on human workers.
Image: Ocado’s ‘SecondHands’ maintenance robot. Pic: Ocado
Amazon currently operates a network of 16 UK fulfilment centres – sprawling warehouses that handle orders on behalf of customers and within its marketplace.
They have attracted criticism in the past amid allegations of tough working conditions, including exhausting performance targets for those arranging items for delivery.
Amazon, which has rejected any suggestion of poor practice, said the work on offer in Rugby was attractive.
Its director of UK customer fulfilment, Stefano Perego, said: “We are delighted to expand our operations in the Midlands where we already have a dedicated workforce of more than 2,500 people at fulfilment centres in Rugeley, Coalville and Daventry.
“We are thrilled to begin recruitment for 400 new permanent roles in Rugby with competitive wages and comprehensive benefits starting on day one.”
Image: Amazon currently operates a network of 16 UK fulfilment centres
Amazon said of its pay package: “The pay rate for permanent Amazon employees increases over their first two years of employment, when all employees earn £8.35 an hour and above.
“All permanent Amazon fulfilment centre employees are given stock grants, which over the last five years were on average equal to £1,000 or more per year per person.
“Employees are offered a comprehensive benefits package, including private medical insurance, life assurance, income protection, subsidised meals and an employee discount, which combined are worth more than £700 annually, as well as a company pension plan.”
Amazon is already exploring ways that minimise human labour. For example, its Amazon Go store concept – recently opened in Seattle – involves no checkouts with all goods bought via an app.
Image: A man restocks the shelves in the Amazon Go supermarket
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) responded to the Centre for Cities report by saying its own data showed the tide was turning against retail jobs in the UK.
Its chief executive, Helen Dickinson, said: “This new report points to the growing impact of automation on the retail industry.
“The BRC’s latest employment data, which reported a net reduction in jobs, echoes this trend and reflects the pressures felt from the diverging costs of labour versus technology and the subsequent boost of investment in the latter.
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“The report also rightly acknowledges the disproportionate impact on economically deprived and vulnerable communities, which is compounded by the burden of property taxation also hitting these areas hardest.
“The cost of this can be seen in more empty shops on the high street.”