The Edinburgh development centre of Amazon is embarking on the biggest recruitment drive in its 11-year history, with plans to increase headcount by up to one-third.
The research and development facility, which when it opened was Amazon’s first outside the US, is looking for at least 35 software engineers, scientists and managers as it further cements its place within the capital’s thriving tech industry.
Current managing director Graeme Smith said the recruits will join about 100 staff already working on features and services used by the internet retailer around the world.
The expansion is being driven by top-line growth at Amazon, which racked up global sales of $107 billion (£75.6bn) last year from its growing portfolio of online retail and web services. Though investors would like to see more of this cash falling to the bottom line, the company has posted a profit for the last three consecutive quarters, and is expected to do so again on Wednesday when it reports figures for the first three months of this year.
The Edinburgh R&D centre is now one of three in the UK working to improve the customer experience on website, mobile app and cloud services run by Amazon. They also work on innovations featured on Amazon’s range of devices and the Prime Video service.
The tech posts in Edinburgh are part of wider plans to create 2,500 permanent jobs throughout the UK, taking Amazon’s total number of British employees to 14,500 by the end of this year. The company has about 2,000 staff in Scotland working at its R&D and customer service centres, both in Edinburgh, and its distribution centres in Dunfermline and Gourock.
Smith said the technology posts are “like Silicon Valley jobs right here in Edinburgh”, with developers spearheading services such as the “New For You” personal recommendations featured on the website. This runs alongside other “common sense recommendations” which drive sales by detecting purchasing preferences to promote products that will appeal to individual buyers.
“These are absolutely huge,” Smith said. “They run on every Amazon website everywhere in the world.”
Despite concerns about skills shortages in the sector, Smith said recruiting in Edinburgh is still easier than in other global hubs such as London or San Francisco. The centre also strives to support the city’s tech community through various events, as well as its partnership with the University of Edinburgh.
“We are in a really strong position in Edinburgh right now,” he added. “I think what we are seeing is a rising tide that is lifting all boats.”
Amazon says it is on course to open its new UK headquarters in London’s Shoreditch in 2017.