Retail in Asia

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Amazon 2017 sales soar, record-breaking Q4 profit

Amazon Quickly eating the retail sales CNBC - Retail in Asia

Amazon has bested all previous financial quarters with the announcement this month company fourth-quarter revenues hit $60.5 billion, driving profits up 150% to $1.9 billion – a record profit gain for the US e-commerce giant.

On the back of a strong Christmas period across both its namesake and the newly acquired Whole Foods Inc, Amazon said total revenues soared by 38% compared to the previous year.

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The American company was further helped out by its burgeoning cloud business, Amazon Web Services, which took in $5.11 billion, up 45% on last year.

Over the three-month period ending December 31, the Seattle-based firm said net income more than doubled to $1.86 billion, or $3.75 per share, thanks also to a $789 million benefit from the U.S. Republican tax bill passed in December.

The world’s largest online retailer drew millions of new customers to its Prime fast-shipping club too. Amazon said that Prime saw more than 4 million sign-ups in just seven days alone last quarter, and revenue from subscription fees grew 49% to $3.2 billion.

Amazon said it expects operating profit this quarter of between $300 million and $1 billion.

In a statement, chief executive officer Jeff Bezos also praised the company’s Alexa voice assistant: “Our 2017 projections for Alexa were very optimistic and we far exceeded them. We don’t see positive surprises of this magnitude very often.”

Amazon continues to break into new retail territory. In addition to Alexa, the internet shopping giant opened its first automated grocery store in January in Seattle, Washington.

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Dubbed Amazon Go, the checkout-free grocery looks to set the stage for the future of physical store retailing where shoppers serve themselves, with the option of leaving without ‘paying’.

Amazon also recently revealed a healthcare deal with partners Berkshire Hathaway and J.P. Morgan Chase. Looking ahead, it plans to “double down” on Alexa’s promotion while it continues to look for a second headquarters location in North America.