After announcing the opening of a new fulfillment center last June in Chalons-sur-Saone (the region of Bourgogne and, coincidentally the previous district of the current Minister of Industrial Renewal, Arnaud Montebourg), it has been announced that in the 2nd half of 2013, Amazon will open yet another fulfillment center in France, this time in the Pas-de-Calais region. Including the recent Burgundy location, this move will bring their total number of fulfillment centers in France to four. The new center will measure approximately 100,000 m² and is expected to bring up to 1,000 new jobs to the region, a welcome investment in a region that has had many economic and employment challenges in recent years. As with the Bourgogne site, there is quite a bit of debate as to which city the site will actually be located in. Amazon has indicated that they will communicate before the end of the year whether the site will be located next to the town of Douai or near Lens.
A principal driver of the decision is, of course, which location would be closest to the freeway. The location near Douai (in the town of Lauwin-Planque), is also interesting because it already hosts the warehouse/fulfillment centers for ecommerce giant Kiabi and video game specialist Big Ben. Interestingly, the two locations where Amazon would build the center have already been purchased by two companies, one Australian and the other American, who will build the site and rent it to Amazon in the event that either location is selected.
France conveniently forgets that Amazon is creating jobs
The most fascinating thing about this entire situation is that Amazon is pushing forward with its decision to expand in France despite the $252 million bill for back taxes the French government hit them with this month. As wementioned in our article on the situation earlier this month, the French government seems to ‘conveniently forget’ that Amazon is putting forth a pretty impressive effort in terms of investing in France. To date, Amazon can clearly demonstrate that they have created thousands of jobs here, while many companies here are choosing to do the opposite. Although the types of jobs they create may not be ‘ideal’ in the minds of many, particularly given various labor problems Amazon has faced in recent years (or here), their doubling down on the French market shows that they strongly believe that France is a good investment from a business perspective.
Perhaps the government should be actively using the Amazon example to encourage investment in France, rather than putting more emphasis on Amazon’s alleged tax improprieties.