By Helen Reid
BARCELONA (Reuters) – Amazon plans to open new warehouses and hire more people in Europe, an executive said on Tuesday, even as squeezed consumer spending forces the tech giant to cut costs globally and lay off some employees.
Amazon has invested 142 billion euros ($156 billion)in Europe since 2010, and its growth in the region was boosted in recent years from COVID-19 lockdowns driving shopping online.
Stefano Perego, vice president of global operations for North America and Europe, said Amazon’s footprint in Europe would increase from more than 70 fulfilment centres currently, though he declined to say how many new warehouses are planned or where, saying only that the company is guided by customer demand.
The expansion is part of Amazon’s push to increase efficiency by cutting delivery distances and making fulfilment centres more automated.
As a heated debate swirls around artificial intelligence (AI) and its potential risks, Perego, speaking at a Shoptalk conference in Barcelona, said AI is a force for good.
Robots help make warehouses safer, he said, by reducing the need for workers to move heavy objects or make repetitive motions, and allowing them to focus on tasks requiring more skill.
“The ability to have a collaborative deployment of AI is really a key strategic element for us,” Perego said. “I think it’s transforming jobs, and it is giving better, upskilled types of jobs in warehouse and logistics.”
($1 = 0.9084 euros)
(Reporting by Helen Reid in Barcelona; Editing by Andrea Ricci)