The UK's supermarkets will be faced with a challenge other than the rise of low-cost rivals next year, according says Amazon's UK chief, Christopher North.
The US online retailer plans to dramatically expand its Pantry service – the food department it launched in November that sells over 4,000 branded food and drink as also health and beauty products.
North told The Guardian Amazon expects to add thousands more goods to the 4,000 already on offer, the delivery of which, will cost consumers £2.99 per large 'Pantry box'.
''We are really happy with the early numbers,'' he told the newspaper. ''In the new year we are going to be adding a lot more products.''
North remained tight-lipped about a possible launch of Amazon Fresh – the fresh food delivery service it operated in New York as also the west coast of the US and which it reportedly trialed in London earlier this year.
''When we believe we have got the offer right, and the economics, we will roll it out internationally,'' North said.
According to commentators, the news that Amazon would ramp up its grocery delivery business would come as a blow to the ''big four'' supermarket chains – Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's and Morrisons – which were already under pressure as a result of changing shopping habits. Large grocers had been struggling with falling sales as households abandoned the weekly shop in favour of discount supermarkets, regular local top-up shopping and online ordering.
''We are really happy with the early numbers,'' North told the Guardian. ''In the new year we are going to be adding a lot more products.''
According to commentators, Pantry did not sell fresh food but thanks to the venture's success the retailer could launch the Amazon Fresh service in the UK. The company currently only offered the full grocery service on the west coast of the US and in New York, but there was speculation it could launch in London.
North said, ''When we believe we have got the offer right, and the economics, we will roll it out internationally.''