Retail Tech Thursday: Amazon continuing its rapid expansion in the UK

Retail Tech Thursday is our weekly check-in here at Spreckley, where we share the most interesting retail and retail technology news, innovations, and trends.

This week’s hot topics are Curry’s sales slump as key tech goods are short-supplied, as well as Amazon to create 1,500 apprenticeships in the UK in 2022.

Amazon to create 1,500 new apprenticeships as UK workforce grows

Amazon is continuing its rapid expansion in the UK with plans to hire 1,500 apprentices after growing its British headcount by almost 50% last year, according to Retail Week.

Last year, the company employed 25,000 people in the UK, investing £32 billion since 2010. They surpassed their original target of 10,000 employees. With the new hires, they now have 70,000 permanent employees working in our country. The company reported that half of its new hires from last year were either unemployed or fresh out of school. In addition to packing parcels, the new hires maintained servers and carried out other tasks across the organisation.

The rapid rise in headcount is attributed to the retailers shift into the grocery market with its Amazon Fresh stores operating without cash registers. Currently, the tech giant has 15 outlets operating in London and plans to open 200 more across the UK in the next two years. It is a direct challenge to British retail giants like Tesco, which is already competing with German discounters Aldi and Lidl. Amazon said its Fresh stores, and two 4-Star stores opened last year, created hundreds of jobs.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “The announcement is testament to the strength of the British economy, with GDP back at pre-pandemic levels, employee numbers at record highs and unemployment falling.”

The hiring spree comes after Amazon enjoyed a surge in profits after lockdown restrictions caused shoppers to switch to online retail.

Curry’s sales slump as key tech goods are short-supplied

The UK’s largest electrical retailer said it suffered a sales slump due to the global chip shortage, which is affecting the supply of electrical products such as TVs and appliances, as well as shipping, according to The Guardian.

Demand for some products, including TVs and smart home products such as voice-controlled speakers, was also down as household budgets are increasingly squeezed.

“The technology market has been very challenging in recent months, with uneven customer demand and supply disruption,” said Alex Baldock, the chief executive of Currys, which formerly traded as PC World, Carphone Warehouse and Dixons. He said there had been problems with getting hold of people, containers, trailers as well as products.

The retailer said some of the issues that hit Christmas trading persist. It is “continuing to face into uncertain demand and supply chain disruption which means there are some areas where availability remains challenged.”

Despite those problems, Baldock said he expected the technology market to remain bigger than before the pandemic because of the shift to working from home and towards gaming as a form of entertainment.