A conversation with Mariangela Marseglia, VP Country Manager Italy and Spain, Amazon
Amazon landed in Spain in 2011 with the purchase of BuyVip, an e-commerce firm based in Pozuelo de Alarcón (Madrid). Since then, the multinational has opened several logistics and urban distribution centers in the region, in addition to a technology headquarters from which they develop, among other things, technology for Kindle. The pandemic has fueled Amazon’s growth and hiring rate worldwide: in Spain alone, Amazon has hired 1,500 people both full-time and part-time. We spoke with Mariangela Marseglia, VP Country Manager Italy and Spain, about the impact of the health crisis on the business and their long-term plans in the city.
M.I.A.: Amazon has been one of the few companies that seems to have emerged stronger from the pandemic. How have these months been in Spain? Has the situation been similar to that of other countries where you operate in Europe and North America? What predictions do you have for autumn in the Spanish market?
M.M.: This crisis has affected us all, we are not an exception. We have had to react quickly to ensure that people can access the products they need safely while also ensuring the safety of our employees. It is true that the systems, technology and logistics network in which we have invested for years have allowed us to adapt relatively quickly to continue serving large numbers of people across the country. And not only that, it has also allowed our commercial partners and many of the more than 8,000 Spanish SMEs that sell through Amazon to continue operating. Even, in some cases, generating new jobs or at least maintaining all its personnel. At Amazon we are 100% focused on the client and many families have been able to buy what they need through Amazon.es. This situation has been very similar in all the countries where we operate.
Like all companies, we have had to adapt our operations and modify our processes to comply with security measures and guarantee the health of our employees and customers. We have changed more than 150 procedures in our logistics centers to ensure the safety of our employees. This has led to increased operating costs due to the pandemic.
In the last presentation of results, our founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, announced that in the second quarter of the year we expect to invest some 4,000 million dollars globally, and possibly a little more, in expenses related to COVID-19 to be able to deliver products to our customers and keep our employees safe.
M.I.A.: Amazon has strengthened its workforce to cope with the increase in demand during confinement. How many people have been recruited and in which areas in the centers of Madrid? Has it been easy to access new workers in these peculiar conditions?
M.M.: During the health crisis we have created more than 1,500 new full-time and part-time jobs throughout Spain in our centers and logistics network, including at our San Fernando de Henares Logistics Center, the urban logistics center that serves customers from Prime Now in Madrid, at our Getafe Distribution Center and at our logistics stations in Alcobendas, Getafe and Vicálvaro. Many people are suffering the economic consequences of this pandemic as they have been suspended or lost their jobs. We are delighted to have them on our teams and that they can have a job at Amazon.
M.I.A .: You started off in Spain with the purchase of BuyVIP. Today you have several subsidiaries and a development center in the city. Was the commitment to Madrid clear from the start? What aspects would you highlight of Madrid with respect to other international headquarters?
M.M.: When we launched Amazon.es in 2011 we established our corporate office for Spain in Madrid and a year later, in 2012 we opened our first logistics center in Spain in San Fernando de Henares. Doing it in Madrid made perfect sense, not only because it was the country’s capital but because its geographical location in the center of the peninsula allowed us to serve clients from all over the country. As the business has grown in Spain we have been expanding our network in the territory and today we have logistics centers, distribution centers and logistics stations throughout the country in order to be closer to our clients and commercial partners. And we have not only grown our logistics structure, we are also proud of our research and development centers.
Amazon’s commitment to Spain is unequivocal and long-term. Between 2011 and 2018 we have invested 2,900 million euros in infrastructure, shipping, wages and benefits for the more than 7,000 permanent employees that we have today, including almost 300 working in the software development center, the Tech Hub at our corporate headquarters near Atocha.
This ‘tech hub’ in Madrid focuses on creating new technologies that will be used by Amazon’s teams and customers around the world, as well as reading technology and Kindle and also by companies that buy and sell through Amazon Business. Here we have found professionals with great talent and a desire to innovate, who are endowed with a unique combination of knowledge, passion and creativity. Madrid is also a very attractive destination for professionals from all over the world who decide to join our teams in this city. Indeed, only in our corporate offices in Madrid professionals of 70 nationalities work which is a great indicator of the diversity in the teams.
M.I.A .: What has the experience with the Kindle development center that Amazon has installed in Madrid been like? How many people work in it? Why was Madrid chosen?
M.M .: We are very excited to see how ideas developed from our Madrid center impact the way customers read and access content around the world.
With the creation of this team, Spain joined the US and India as the third country to have an Amazon development center focused exclusively on technologies related to reading. Choosing Madrid proves once again that Amazon’s commitment to Spain is stronger than ever, and we hope to close this year with 200 workers focused on reading technology and Kindle.
This team is creating technologies that will help customers discover, buy, and read their favorite books, articles and other formats, and the features they are developing will be available to customers worldwide. We are excited to have a global organization with a technology team in Madrid working on our mission to make every book in every language accessible to any reader anywhere in the world and to help our clients read more and get more out of the reading experience.
M.I.A .: What development and investment plans does Amazon have in the medium and long term in Madrid? How do you expect Madrid will evolve in the next 5 to 10 years?
M.M.: Our commitment to Madrid is clear and long-term, as evidenced by all our investments in this city and its surroundings. We have a policy not to anticipate future plans, but we have just announced the opening of a new logistics center in Alcalá de Henares this fall that will allow us to create 500 permanent jobs in the next three years and strengthen our delivery services.
Amazon has always been very well received by the different municipal teams. The pillars of Amazon’s corporate culture and the city’s development policies go hand in hand: sustainability, digitization, internalization and diversity. Madrid is a fantastic city where our teams will continue to grow and we have dozens of open positions to continue innovating on behalf of our clients around the world.