Feeds

Amazon's secret UK sales figures revealed by Parliamentary probe

You guys don't buy much from us - honest

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Globe-spanning giant etailer Amazon has given the UK government access to its British sales figures for three years, after MPs grilled the firm over its tax payments in Blighty.

Amazon said in written evidence to the Public Accounts Committee that it would like to reveal the figures on a "confidential basis" to the MPs. The firm said sales in 2009 hit £1.86bn, it took in £2.36bn in 2010 and £2.91bn in 2011.

The website was dragged in front of the committee along with Starbucks and Google to explain how it managed to pay so little corporation tax in the UK when it gave all the appearance of being quite a successful company.

None of the three firms came off very well, but the Amazon representative, Andrew Cecil, director of public policy, looked particularly ridiculous when he tried to claim that he didn't know Britain's sales figures, he only knew the sum for the whole of Europe.

MPs said that was clearly not good enough and they wanted the sales figures for the UK, which Cecil has now submitted in writing.

Despite the fact that Amazon was hoping to keep the information quiet, the committee published the evidence from the firm, which gives sales through the amazon.co.uk website, but no profits.

Obviously, having the profit figures would give a better idea of the corporation tax the firm should be paying. Instead, Amazon gave figures for the VAT it collected in the UK, rather missing the point a bit.

The sales figures also seem a bit low compared to high street retailers in Britain, where, for example, John Lewis made £8.7bn turnover in 2011 and Dixons group nabbed £8.15bn. It has been reported that Amazon's total EU turnover in 2010, for example, was more than £6bn - suggesting that Britain accounts for well under half its EU business.

Amazon's only explanation of the figures is that they are "net sales generated from the amazon.co.uk website over the past three years", there's no breakdown of what that includes.

The company also explained what firm owns Amazon's European company based in Luxembourg, another fact Cecil claimed not to know.

The internet firm said that the intellectual property rights to all its EU websites were held by Amazon Europe Holding Technologies in Luxembourg, which is in turn owned by Amazon.com International Sales Inc, Amazon.com Inc and Amazon Europe Holding Inc, all based in the US.

"This is how EU entities pay for the use of Amazon’s technology and intellectual property, which is primarily developed in the US," the evidence said.

However, the e-commerce retail businesses of the European websites are operated by Amazon EU S.a.r.L., which is then also owned by Amazon Europe Holding Technologies. EU S.a.r.L owns the inventory that goes to UK customers, earns the profits for all of Europe and processes all payments, the company claims.

In still more complicated corporate structuring, EU third part seller business goes through Amazon Services Europe S.a.r.L. on its way to EU S.a.r.L., digital business meanders through Amazon Media EU S.a.r.L. and fulfillment in the UK is from Amazon.co.uk Ltd back to EU S.a.r.L. again.

The firm didn't give any reason why its European business was structured like this. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
No, thank you. I will not code for the Caliphate
Some assignments, even the Bongster decline must
Kaspersky backpedals on 'done nothing wrong, nothing to fear' blather
Founder (and internet passport fan) now says privacy is precious
TROLL SLAYER Google grabs $1.3 MEEELLION in patent counter-suit
Chocolate Factory hits back at firm for suing customers
Facebook, Google and Instagram 'worse than drugs' says Miley Cyrus
Italian boffins agree with popette's theory that haters are the real wrecking balls
Mozilla's 'Tiles' ads debut in new Firefox nightlies
You can try turning them off and on again
Sit tight, fanbois. Apple's '$400' wearable release slips into early 2015
Sources: time to put in plenty of clock-watching for' iWatch
Facebook to let stalkers unearth buried posts with mobe search
Prepare to HAUNT your pal's back catalogue
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.