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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 March 2006, 14:08 GMT
Irish language skills lure Amazon
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Amazon is attracted to Ireland by its language talent
Online retailer Amazon is to move its European customer service centre from the UK to the Irish Republic, to take advantage of better language skills.

The new operation will answer queries from the UK and French websites and German version during peak times.

The centre will move from Slough to Cork, creating up to 450 jobs there.

"Cork offers the ability to provide our customers with multilingual support," said Jim Adkins, director of European customer services for Amazon.com.

The internet giant said it often needed to increase its customer service numbers especially around Christmas and found it hard to hire part-time employees with the requisite skills, reported the Financial Times.

In a 2005 European Commission poll conducted by Eurobarometer, 30% of UK inhabitants surveyed said they could speak a second language at conversational level.

In Ireland, this figure was about a third higher at 41%.

Amazon's customer service employees at Slough will be given the opportunity to relocate to the Cork operation, which will be based at the city's Airport Business Park.

The company's UK and Europe corporate operations will remain in Slough.

Amazon, based in Seattle, is one of the internet's largest retailers, posting revenues of over $8.4 billion (4.8 billion) in 2005 selling CDs, DVDs, books and a range of electronic goods.

Dubious fame

Slough, in Berkshire, acquired notoriety following the award-winning BBC TV sitcom The Office, which depicted the trials and tribulations of office life based on the Slough trading estate.

Since then, the BBC has run a series called Making Slough Happy in which six experts aimed to "spread a ripple of happiness throughout the town".

Similarly, contemporary poet Ian McMillan was set to right a "poetic wrong".

He penned his own version of a work by former poet laureate Sir John Betjeman, whose opening lines called for "friendly bombs" to fall on Slough, because "it isn't fit for humans now".

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