Amazon’s push to expand further in Central and Eastern Europe has hit a – probably temporary – stumbling block, as the southern Czech city of Brno said no to a new warehouse and fulfillment center, as reported in the Wall Street Journal and elsewhere. However, other plans to build a similar warehouse near Prague and three more in Poland apparently remain on track.
As reported by Business New Europe, both neighboring Slovakia and other cities in the Czech Republic are now angling for the project. The Brno cancellation apparently followed delays for access and rezoning permits, although BNE quoted Brno local politicians as expressing surprise at Amazon’s decision. WSJ reported Amazon statements that the Brno facility would have created 2000 permanent and up to 3000 additional holiday-season jobs.
Amazon has not always had an easy time in Central Europe. Labor disputes with its workers in Germany have added to the Europe-wide protests over its tax arrangements. Locations like Prague and Brno are conveniently sited to serve its customers in southern Germany and Austria while enjoying lower labor costs, as well as acting as launchpads for expansion locally and further east. More accommodating labor practices have also been cited as one motive for Amazon to build out east.
The Brno debacle is not likely to slow its momentum in the region, although CEE politicians might now be thinking hard on how to deliver better, timelier arrangements for the Bezos behemoth. Kindles, meanwhile, are already available at electronics stores across Central and Eastern Europe, though full-blown local-language Amazon sites are still around the corner.