Argos is taking the fight to Amazon by hiring 150 tech specialists as the British retailer’s boss plans to go “head to head” with the online giant.
The Sainsbury’s-owned group is creating the roles as part of a major push that will take Argos’ tech team to a total of 800 workers.
Argos chief executive John Rogers said that the hiring spree is aimed at staying competitive with rivals such as Amazon.
“We have to compete with the likes of Amazon to keep ahead of the competition,” he said.
“The new recruits will be looking at voice technology, augmented reality and bringing together the Argos catalogue with the digital world.
“We are a tech-led business – Argos develops its own technology – and we believe we can compete head to head with Amazon.”
Among the roles to be recruited for are software development engineers, machine learning engineers, big data engineers and product managers.
Based at Argos’ technology hub in Victoria, London and at its head office in Milton Keynes, the new hires will look at innovations such as voice-enabled ordering and how to create a link between the catalogue and digital world.
Traditional retailers have been hammered by the rise of Amazon over the past decade, which has grown at pace and eaten into their market share.
But Mr Rogers insisted that Argos already holds its own against the online giant, pointing to its fast track delivery service, which is “something Amazon is yet to achieve”.
He also highlighted the importance of mobile to the group, adding: “Around 60 per cent of our business today starts online and over 70 per cent of those sales are on mobile devices.
“Creating 150 new permanent tech roles demonstrates the importance we place on growing and nurturing our own tech talent, ensuring Argos is a fantastic place to shop for our customers.”
Despite the push into tech, the chief executive again ruled out ditching the catalogue.
“Mobile is the way forward, the nature of the catalogue will evolve, but it’s still very convenient to get a feel for what you want to buy.”
Sainsbury’s splashed out £1.4 billion to take over Argos and Habitat owner Home Retail Group in 2016 and has been expanding its ranges and presence ever since.
There are now 213 Argos stores within supermarkets, with more planned.