A life at Amazon

By Audrey SomnardLex Kleren Switch to French for original article

From an alleyway in Grund to several buildings in Kirchberg, Amazon set up shop in Luxembourg twenty years ago. The giant has provoked passion and controversy: we spoke to an American who has experienced Amazon from the inside.

This article is provided to you free of charge. If you want to support our team and promote quality journalism, subscribe now.

At the beginning of February, the Make Amazon Pay collective organised a special evening to "celebrate" Amazon's twentieth anniversary in Luxembourg. Every Black Friday in November, its members try to raise awareness of the dangers of over-consumption and Amazon's business model, which is said to be harmful to its employees, the environment and the economy. A Channel 4 documentary, The Great Amazon Heist, was broadcast to mark the occasion. Author and filmmaker Oobah Butler rose to prominence in 2017 when he created The Shed at Dulwich, a fictional restaurant that became London's highest-rated place on TripAdvisor, despite never having served any food. In less than an hour, and with a great deal of humour, he shows how Amazon is regularly criticised for the working conditions of its warehouse staff, how repackaged urine can end up at the top of the sales charts, how his nieces, aged 6 and 8, can order knives and other dangerous objects by voice command, and also how to get round the system by using, as Amazon does, holding companies in countries with, let's say, flexible tax regimes. In the documentary, the author uses a holding company in Belize as his rear base, but Luxembourg is also mentioned.

Amazon is one of the country's biggest employers, but one that remains rather discreet. Yet it is through Luxembourg that all Amazon's transactions in Europe pass. The giant has its HQ in Seattle but it's incorporated in Delaware, a state known for its low taxes, and Luxembourg for the European continent. And it's not just an empty shell, with more than 4,500 employees working there. A few months ago, Amazon celebrated twenty years in the Grand Duchy. What started out as a few offices in an alleyway in Grund has become a veritable campus comprising 7 buildings on the Kichberg. The offices in Grund, then Clausen, quickly became cramped in the face of the giant's expansion. All the teams have therefore moved to Kirchberg in 2019.

Continue reading for free

Get access to this article by subscribing to our newsletter that is sent twice a week. You also have to have a Journal account.

Already have an account?

Log in