Employees from the book world were among those who celebrated the launch of Amazon’s new 15-storey headquarters in London’s Shoreditch on Wednesday night (26th July).
The Publishers Association's chief executive Stephen Lotinga attended the event, which featured a performance by singer Ella Eyre, along with Sam Missingham, formerly of HarperCollins, RCW agent Sam Copeland and Thomas & Mercer author Mark Edwards.
Former Waterstones managing director Dominic Myers, now head of Amazon Publishing in Europe, and former HarperCollins managing director Simon Johnson, who is also now at Amazon, were also in attendance.
Amazon’s UK Country Manager Doug Gurr hosted the event at the 600,000sq ft space, which includes half an acre of public piazza and events space and 20,000 sq ft of retail, including cafés and restaurants offering alfresco dining.
The e-commerce giant said the interior was designed to “celebrate the industrial heritage and rich culture of Shoreditch” and would be complemented by a “rotating selection of art provided by local artists”.
Employees get the benefit of working in “light and airy open plan work spaces with adjustable sitting/standing desks” and there is also be a large auditorium for employee events and two large outdoor spaces offering views over London.
The architects' initial plans for the building suggested that it would have a basketball court, a tennis court, and a swimming pool but none of these amenities came into fruition in the end.
With the opening of the new building, Amazon announced it would more than double the number of staff working in research and development from 450 to 900. They will primarily be working on Amazon's global Prime Video service, over three dedicated floors in the new building, the company said.
Politicians Sadiq Khan, the Labour London mayor, and Conservative Culture Minister Matt Hancock, both threw their weight behind the opening.
Khan pointed out Amazon’s was the latest in a long line of recent major investments in London by global tech firms over the last year. "London is open to talent, innovation and entrepreneurship and the natural place for major global companies to call home – and it's great news that Amazon has put its confidence in our unique blend of talent, creativity and access to finance,” he said.
While Hancock called the move “great news for Britain”.
“Amazon's increased investment in developing cutting-edge technology in London is another vote of confidence in the UK as a world-leading centre of creativity and innovation,” he added.