Updating Retail Week Knowledge Bank’s profile of Amazon UK presents more problems than most. Why? Because Amazon does not have a UK corporate entity reporting its financials.
The registered UK entity is Amazon.co.uk Ltd, whose “principal activity… is the provision of fulfilment, marketing and support services to other group undertakings”. Its 2009 turnover was £110m, on which it apparently made a loss of £3.3m, giving a tax credit of £1.25m and cumulative tax losses available of £2.7m. So, not a lot to do with UK sales.
But what about UK sales? Retail Week Knowledge Bank estimates 2009 turnover was up to £1.4bn with the 2010 total on track for around £1.6bn, broken out between ‘media’ products and other goods and incorporating sales on behalf of other retailers. Amazon’s group annual report gives 2009 international sales totalling $11.7bn (£7.3bn). The closest to a breakdown between countries, though, is that sales from the German, Japanese and UK websites each represented 13% to 17% of group sales in 2009, 2008 and 2007. Deliberately, it seems, not a lot of helpful detail. Moreover, operating income from those international operations was $863m (£535.6m), Amazon calculating its collective international tax provision at just $23m (£14.3m). Amazon is or may be, though, under examination by various tax jurisdictions - including the UK - it admits in its annual report.
In these days of supposed corporate transparency, surely Amazon’s investors and employees are entitled to know the basic details of sales, profitability, etc, by major market of a business that - in addition to being the world’s largest online retailer - is among the UK’s 30 largest retailers. To say nothing of reporting on the taxes it pays on the profits, whatever and wherever they might be.