After years of speculation about Amazon’s expansion into Australia, the retail sector got the first concrete details of the monolith’s strategy this week, with news that the executive who will lead the local operations will be crossing continents to take up the role.
On Thursday Amazon lifted the lid on recruitment plans for a fulfilment centre in Melbourne’s Dandenong South, with the retail giant promising to inject “millions of dollars” into the local economy and create thousands of new jobs — and that this would be just the beginning.
Amazon also confirmed the executive selected to lead its Australian operations would not be, as previously suspected, an Australian retail talent. Instead, Rocco Braeuniger, who is currently a director at Amazon Germany, will take up the mantle of Australian country manager, while Robert Bruce will serve as Amazon’s director of operations.
Here are four things we know about Braeuniger so far, and what analysts think the news of the week means for Australian retail:
He will be arriving soon
Braeuniger is currently director of consumables, cross site and mobile experience at Amazon.de, the retailer’s German site, according to his LinkedIn profile.
AdNews reports this morning the company has confirmed he will be arriving in Australia in coming months, indicating the official launch of local operations might not be far off.
Amazon already employs close to 1000 employees in Australia across other areas of its business, such as Amazon Web Services, and recruitment has begun for a range of roles at the Dandenong South plant, including HR professionals and operations managers
However, the exact lift-off date for the centre remains unknown. An Amazon spokesperson told SmartCompany, “we will make an announcement on the opening date in the near future”.
He has a decade of experience inside Amazon
Braeuniger started working at Amazon in 2006 and has reportedly seen inside several parts of the business through a range of roles across different categories and customer experience roles. These include his current position as head of consumables for the German arm of the business, as well as manager of the sporting and outdoor goods category sections.
Australia’s own sporting goods market is one that retail experts have pointed to as ripe for disruption, and the sector was already seeing branding shifts before Amazon’s announcements this week. Last month, Super Retail Group announced it would be consolidating its sporting brands under the Rebel Sport umbrella to strengthen its position as market leader.
He went to entrepreneur school
Amazon Australia’s new country manager also reportedly has a background in formal business education, including a Master of Business Administration from US private college, Babson. The college promotes itself as a hub for entrepreneurs and spruiks accelerators and startup style project learning, promising graduate students it provides them with “a unique methodology for turning ideas into action”.
His appointment is part of Amazon’s international momentum
Some analysts had predicted the local head of Amazon’s operations would be drawn from a local pool of retail talent, but the appointment of Braeuniger has been announced against a backdrop of a flurry of action from Amazon HQ to establish new teams across the region.
“News of [Amazon’s] aggressive expansion globally spans across the Asia-Pacific region,” says senior research analyst at Euromonitor International, Bettina Kurnik.
The release of the first details of the Australian team is happening at the same time that Amazon is sending talent to a range of hubs across the APAC region, as well as partnering with other tech giants in those countries for service delivery.
“Amazon’s launch in Singapore, for instance, was much publicised due to its offering Prime Now two-hour delivery on all purchases, and having to enlist the services of taxi, Uber and Grab drivers to make good on the promise. Amazon India has just announced that it will set up three more fulfilment centres, taking the total number of such facilities within the country to 41 by October 2017,” says Kurnik.