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Amazon opens fulfillment centres to the public, as it reports a 32% boost to

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Amazon is opening the doors of its mammoth fulfillment centres to the general public for the first time.

The company is now scheduling twice-monthly tours of its sites in Tennessee, California and Delaware, news highlighted as the internet giant reported profits up by almost a third in the first quarter of its financial year.

This is understood to be the first time that the general public has been able to gain entry to the company’s warehouses. The move to welcome in the public comes against a background of reports that have suggested those employed in the warehouses work in difficult conditions and seems to be aimed both at customers and potential employees as the company looks to expand its workforce. The related pages on the Amazon website emphasise its safety record in comparison with other industries, pay levels and benefits.

The update came as net income at the internet giant, which trades in the UK as, where it is this country’s most-visited website, rose to $108m (£64.2m) in the quarter to March 31, up by 32% on the $82m (£48.8m) reported at the same time last year, on net sales that were up by 23% at $19.74bn (£11.7m).

“We get our energy from inventing on behalf of customers and 2014 is off to a kinetic start,” said Jeff Bezos, founder and chief executive of

UK developments in the quarter included the launch of Amazon Student, a discounted six-month prime delivery service for those in education and the rebranding of Lovefilm as Prime Instant Video, available only as part of its Prime subscription delivery service.

Meanwhile innovation in its US heartland also included the launch of Prime Pantry, which will enable members of the service to order grocery items in non-bulk sizes.

Stephen Mader, digital retail insights director for Kantar Retail EMEA, said: “The sunsetting of LoveFilm and integration of Amazon Instant Video into Prime is the catalyst for scaling Amazon Prime penetration in the UK and Germany – Amazon’s two largest markets in Europe. Free value-added content from Kindle and Instant Video is one of the primary membership renewal drivers and a key pillar in Amazon’s drive for increasing share of customer life. As expected there was much fanfare around the launch of Fire TV. Similar to the Kindle Fire, the Fire TV is a physical manifestation of the Amazon ecosystem – a play at gaining share of life and thus share of wallet from its most loyal shopper base.

“In conjunction with the earnings statement this week, Amazon has also launched its long-anticipated Prime Pantry program. This new programme is an attempt at building better economics around consumable categories which are less profitable to ship using Amazon’s conventional methods. Prime members have the option of spending $5.99 to ship a selection of 2,000+ curated products that will fit into a predetermined box up to 45lbs. Amazon’s strategy has always been to innovate on behalf of the customer, and on the surface Pantry is really no different, though it does show signs that we’re beginning to see a really operations led approach to a new offer launch.”

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