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SHOPPING

eBay snaps up online shopping club

US online auction giant eBay said Monday that it has agreed to buy brands4friends, Germany's largest online fashion shopping club, for $200 million (€150 million) in cash.

eBay snaps up online shopping club
Photo: brands4friends

The Berlin-based brands4friends, which was founded in 2007 and employs 200 people, has 3.5 million members in Germany. It sells goods from well-known fashion and lifestyle brands at reduced prices to members through daily offers.

The San Jose, California-based eBay said the acquisition is “designed to strengthen eBay’s position as a leading online fashion destination in Europe.”

“We want to give our customers the best possible fashion experience online,” Doug McCallum, senior vice president for eBay in Europe, said in a statement.

“With the acquisition of brands4friends, we will enter the online shopping club market with an established and dynamic partner who has the expertise, relationships and passion to match our own ambition,” McCallum said.

eBay said online shopping clubs account for approximately 20 percent of online fashion sales in Europe.

Brands4friends chief executive Sergio Dias described eBay as “the perfect partner for us.

“We are able to bring our retail and brand competence and industry knowledge to eBay, and we can expect to benefit from eBay’s traffic and e-commerce experience to accelerate the growth of our shopping community,” Dias said.

eBay said that as part of the deal, it assumes brands4friends’ equity interests in British shopping club SecretSales.com and in its Japan arm, brands4friends.jp.

The acquisition, which is subject to regulatory approval, is expected to close in the first quarter of 2011, according to eBay.

AFP/mry

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CHRISTMAS

Amazon workers across Germany go on strike for higher wages in build up to ‘online Xmas’

Employees of the online retailer Amazon have downed their tools at several locations across Germany in a protest against precarious wages, but the online shopping giant insists that the strike won’t impact Christmas deliveries.

Amazon workers across Germany go on strike for higher wages in build up to 'online Xmas'
Photo: DPA

In Bad Hersfeld, in the central state of Hesse, employees at an Amazon logistics centre started their strike early on Monday morning. A spokeswoman for the Verdi trade union said they expected about 500 workers at the retail company to take part. 

In Rheinberg and Werne in North Rhine-Westphalia, the strike began shortly before midnight on Sunday evening, with some 500 workers taking part and further 300 workers in the town of Werne joining in.

The union action has hit six locations across the country in total and strike action is set to last until Christmas Eve.

The trade union Verdi had called for strikes at various locations as it sought to push Amazon into recognition of the collective agreements which are commonly established established between trade unions and employer associations in Germany.

“Last week's closure of on-site retail has once again significantly increased the volume of orders placed with mail-order companies such as Amazon,” Verdi said in a statement.

“While the corporation continues to increase its billions in profits, it refuses to pay employees according to collective bargaining agreements. These are minimum conditions,” the union added.

A Verdi spokesman added that Amazon was earning “a golden profit” while workers' health suffered under the stress of delivering packages on time during the pandemic.

Additionally, the trade union said it wanted to push for better health and safety at the workplace in Amazon logistics centres. 

Amazon has always resisted joining in such agreements, claiming that it offers good wages outside of the traditional trade union structures.

Amazon said Monday that its employees already benefit from “excellent wages, excellent fringe benefits and excellent career opportunities.” 

The US-based firm also said that it made health and well-being at work a top priority. 

The company insisted that the strikes would have no impact on customer deliveries in the run up to Christmas, stating that the vast majority of employees work as normal.

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