, the online retailer, is to move its main European customer service centre from Slough to the Irish Republic because it find enough staff with French and German language skills.

Amazon believes it will be easier to recruit multilingual staff in Cork. “It’s a very tight labour market in Slough and that ready pool of multilingual labour that Amazon needs is difficult to find,” said the company.

Amazon said it often needed to increase staff numbers quickly, especially around Christmas, and had difficulty finding the right part-time employees. It hoped a move near to the University College Cork would give it access to a wider pool of French and German speakers.

The Slough office handles queries for Amazon’s UK and French websites, and some German issues, although primary support for is provided by a contact centre in Regensburg, Germany.

Amazon plans to create up to 450 jobs at the contact centre in Cork, reflecting recent growth at the company. Last month Amazon revealed that sales at its international operations – including three European websites and operations in China and Japan – grew 13 per cent to $1.29bn (£750m) in the fourth quarter of 2005.

Jim Adkins, Amazon’s director for European customer service, said: “As our business has grown, and as we have expanded the categories of products we offer, we need to expand our customer service support as well. We believe our new Cork centre…will provide our many millions of European customers with an improved level of service.”

Customer service employees at Slough will be given the opportunity to relocate to Cork. The company’s corporate operations, also in Slough, will not move.

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