A LONG-DORMANT Australian spinoff of the global online retailer Amazon.com has sprung into life with the appointment of two senior American executives to its board and the employment of a dozen marketing staff.
In further evidence Amazon is ramping up its local presence, Amazon.com.au changed its name to Amazon Corporate Services last year and appointed two vice presidents of the American parent - Michael Deal, associate general counsel, and Jason Bristow, the online retailer's treasurer - to the local company's board.
BusinessDay yesterday reported Amazon is in the market for a warehouse in Australia. The group, which made its name as an online bookseller, is now said to be eyeing the Asia-Pacific region. Agents said it had been making it known in real estate circles that its expansion plans would include Australia.
In accounts lodged with the corporate regulator, Amazon Corporate Services said that during the year to June 30, 2011, ''the company commenced conducting business in the form of the provision of marketing and other corporate services for and on behalf of an associated company, Amazon Web Services LLC'' based in Washington.
Amazon Web Services provides IT infrastructure services to businesses.
John Burford, a Sydney accountant at Burford Partners which specialises in servicing subsidiaries of foreign corporations, and the local director of Amazon Corporate Services, said the company had been ''dormant''.
''This is something that's come like a bolt out of the blue,'' he told BusinessDay. ''I've been a director of the company for 12 years and up until last year it did nothing. In November 2010, I was told there was going to be a change of direction.''
The Australian offshoot hired 12 marketing staff last year, he said.
Mr Burford said he was not aware of specific plans for Amazon in Australia and whether or not they included retailing. He said that ''to date'' plans had included data operations but added: ''I sense it's going to be big.''
''It's all very embryonic,'' he said. ''There could be things other than marketing. It's an evolution.''
Online book retailing in Australia is estimated to have been worth $280 million in 2010, according to consultancy PwC. More than half of the books bought online in 2010 were bought from overseas booksellers, taking advantage of their GST-free status.