Amazon hits 15 years of British online business

Oliver Smith
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AMAZON UK celebrates its 15th birthday today, with its British operations having run since 1998.

Amazon has seen dramatic growth in its 15 years with revenue growing from $293,643 (£183,662) in its first quarter of 1999, after launching in the UK, to highs of $15.7bn last quarter.

Despite Amazon’s record growth, its earnings are harder to track. The company has rarely turned a profit, and even when it does the figures are typically in the low millions.

Last quarter Amazon reported a loss of £7m, but the firm’s financials have never fazed founder Jeff Bezos. In a letter to shareholders in April, Bezos remained adamant that Amazon instead takes a long term view of profitability, a view sometimes at odds with investors.

“Our investments… strike some as too generous, shareholder indifferent, even at odds with being a for-profit company. But I don’t think so… Take a long-term view, and the interests of customers and shareholders align.”

Despite its lack of profitability Amazon’s share price has remained strong, growing 520 per cent since its UK launch to its current price of around $310 a share.

To celebrate 15 years in the UK market, Amazon yesterday released a list of its top selling products, with Adele topping the list of best-selling artists across all formats, One Direction’s Midnight Memories album taking the title of fastest-selling album of all time, and the final instalment of the Harry Potter series – the Deathly Hallows – named the fastest-selling product of all time.

Children’s film Despicable Me was names the most-streamed movie on its LoveFilm platform.


There are two kinds of companies, those that work to try to charge more and those that work to charge less. We will be the second.”

If you’re competitor-focused, you have to wait until there is a competitor doing something. Being customer-focused allows you to be more pioneering.”

A company shouldn’t get addicted to being shiny, because shiny doesn't last.”

We’ve had three big ideas at Amazon that we’ve stuck with for 18 years, and they’re the reason we’re successful: Put the customer first. Invent. And be patient.”