An open letter to Amazon

By - Thursday 7th February, 2013

Are you a monolithic multinational e-commerce company looking to tighten your grip on the UK market? Look no further.

Photo by: Kati Drisc

Dear Amazon,

You’ve been in the news a lot over here recently, and not all of it has been positive. Between eyebrows raised over your tax arrangements and your alleged assassination of the British high-street,  it would be fair to say that many journalists (libertarian bloggers aside) have been out for your blood.

Well – here’s something fresh that might cheer your PR team up. I want you in my town. I think, once you’ve read this letter, you’ll want to be in my town too.

Not long ago, I read in the always-scintillating property press that you’re looking for a new London HQ. A comparatively modest 80,000 sqft requirement to serve as your temporary base until you can acquire or construct a 750,000 sqft mega-campus, I assume, somewhere in east London.

I also know that you’re not looking for prime sites. This comes as no surprise to me, as, if you’re anything like your own customers, you love a deal. I bet you also the think rubbing shoulders with hedge-fund managers, billionaire oligarchs, or city boys is not a privilege worth paying a terrifying premium on floorspace for.

I propose then you could make no better decision than to move your newly expanded operation to Croydon.

In Croydon you can have everything you need from office space to fast transport links, good quality of life, an existing technology ecosystem (we have that too), and the under-appreciated open secret that is the diversity of our cultural and culinary offerings.

Offices: Affordable, refurbished office-space that’s half the price or better than the West-End (Many buildings under £20 sqft – new builds around £22). With buildings of around 100,000 sqft or more on average, we have plenty of stock that could house all of your teams in one convenient place.

Transport: We’ve got you covered. With fast, direct links to London Bridge (13 mins), London Victoria (16 mins), St Pancras – for Paris (30 mins) and Gatwick for practically everywhere (15 mins), your teams will be able to get wherever they need to go. With services coming into Croydon from the rest of London and the Southeast and the UK’s most successful tram system on hand, it’ll be a doddle for your staff to get to work.

Food and culture: While  many people in the UK might be surprised by this, we have an excellent and growing reputation for food, including our very own restaurant quarter and London’s oldest street market – dating back to 1276. By the typically patronizing British person’s calculations, that makes it 3.2 times older than the United States. You’ll also find that its quite suddenly becoming the kind of place that hipsters and recent college graduates come to congregate in order to attend mixed-media arts events like this – exactly the kind of folk you either want to employ or your employees want to hang around with so they can pretend to be cool.

Quality of Life: We’re also surrounded by green spaces. If you set-up in grimy, increasingly pricey Shoreditch, your execs are going to have to commute for an absolute age to reach anywhere suitably green for a country pile. But in Croydon you’re right on the edge of the country. You can actually drive to the countryside in 20 minutes. Indeed, unlike London, you can drive period. (I used that right, correct?)

Technology Ecosystem: I bet this one really will come as a complete surprise. But we even have this too; a growing network of digital start-ups, publically listed, global software firms,  fin-tech firms, and an army of developers that meet up in a regular basis in Croydon – it turns out because its a great place to run a technology business from.

Familiarity: As a bonus, we think you’ll find the whole landscape your new HQ sits in comfortingly familiar – a concentrated cluster of high-rises at the centre of a small city. And like Seattle, it rains a lot here too!

I’m not asking you to move here permanently. But while you consider your options in the even brighter lights of central London away from our mini-metropolis , why not grab the bull by the horns, make the speedy, guilt-free decision of moving to Croydon?

Yours most sincerely,

James Naylor

James Naylor

James Naylor

James grew up in Coulsdon. After a brief spell in Somerset he returned to central Croydon as a useful London base. Since then however, his enthusiasm for Croydon has slowly grown into obsession – leading him to set up Croydon Tours and eventually the Croydon Citizen. James is particularly interested in the power of local media to foster new ways of thinking about communities and how to empower them. He is most interested in putting Croydon in a wider context within London, the economy and across time. During the week, he works for an advertising technology company hailing from Silicon Valley. When he’s not working on Croydon-related projects, he enjoys desperately nerdy but hugely enjoyable boardgames. Views personal, not representative of editorial policy.

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  • Anne Giles

    I just love this!

  • david white

    We should be boycotting Amazon, until they pay their fair share of tax, not encouraging them to come to Croydon.

  • Tim Quick

    Great letter James, although I would disagree with David White around not encouraging amazon to Croydon. Not paying your tax and where a company decides to base its employees are two different matters. And as you suggest in other posts, Croydon needs an economic plan which just doesnt just rely on fading retail – having a multinational tech business on our doorstep would be fantastic – just think of all those additional people to increase demand for tech city, community events, and david lean cinema showings (currently in the spread eagle – i personally love adrian winchester for this!) in the area.
    Much better than having empty office space. Let Gideon deal (hopefully) with the tax issues.

  • Andrew Dickinson

    What a coup for Croydon if they did come here.With Mike Webb, chairman of insurance company Allianz threatening to pull out unless we attract other big businesses to the town (and a better workforce) this is just the kind of organisation he’s referring to. I agree with what Tim says below with paying tax and where a company decides to base its employees being two different matters.Losing a multinational confectionery/coffee manufacturer has been a big blow to the towns economic confidence and these guys would be a gain that other rival towns would be envious of. It’s such a natural fit with JR’s Croydon Tech City initiative.