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Amazon grows in Italy with Rome, Turin sites

by Andrea Biondi

US online retailer Amazon has announced two major investment projects in Italy—a new distribution center near Rome, and a center for artificial intelligence in Turin.

“Talking with Jeff Bezos in Florence was great, as are Amazon's projects in Italy,” tweeted Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi when the agreement was announced.

“Thanks @matteorenzi for wonderful conversation at Palazzo Vecchio,” tweeted Bezos in return.

These announcements by Amazon are important projects both for their impact on employment (some 1,200 new hires are expected at the center at Passo Corese near Rieti over the next three years) and as a sign of confidence in the growth of e-commerce in Italy (€9 billion expected in 2016).

Amazon’s Prime service offers one-day delivery of a million products in 6,000 Italian towns and 2-3 days for the rest of the country.

In Lazio, a logistics center is planned to serve central and south Italy, and beyond. Amazon has 150 distribution centers around the world and 29 in Europe. And, depending on which product is ordered, the centers can send it around the world.

Passo Corese will centralize an activity now carried out in the other center of distribution of Amazon in Italy, at Castel San Giovanni, near Piacenza. There is also a center in Milan but's its used only for the Prime service, which launched in February, delivering fresh product in one or two hours in Milan and in 46 surrounding areas.

Amazon will invest €150 million that will be added to the €450 million it has spent in Italy since 2010. It has created 1,700 jobs so far, plus the 1,200 to come as well as researchers in the new artificial intelligence and machine learning research facility in Turin.

The idea is to start with ten positions and Amazon has chosen Italy as the nation to lead its Amazon cloud-based Alexa (audio voice assistant) project that will support Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Amazon Fire TV and Amazon Tap.

Except for TV, all are products that are available in the US and respond to voice commands. Amazon said the new research center will open by the end of 2016 and that Turin was chosen as the site “due to the presence of universities.”

Interested candidates can apply through Amazon Jobs (www.amazon.jobs/it).