Amazon to open French site


Tuesday, August 29th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


PARIS – U.S. online retailer Amazon.com Inc. will sell books, music, videos and DVDs on its French site, Amazon.fr, starting Thursday, founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos said.


"It's a first for Amazon to be launching four products at the same time," Denis Terrien, chief executive of Amazon.fr, said at a news conference Tuesday.


True to Amazon's secretive culture, Bezos and Terrien declined to disclose investment figures for France, market-share targets or details of further expansion plans in Europe.


Bezos said only that money pumped into the French operation was a "significant investment." Amazon's share price was under pressure recently as investors questioned the company's future unprofitability.


"We are a famously unprofitable company," Bezos said. "But this is our plan."


He said he is aiming to build a lasting company. "If we do that, the share price will take care of itself," he said.


A number of online sellers already are in place in France. The biggest include Pinault-Printemps-Redoute's Fnac.com, France Telecom's Alapage and BOL, a joint-venture between Vivendi SA's Havas and Germany's Bertelsmann AG.


The French site is Amazon's third in Europe after Britain and Germany, both launched in 1998. Amazon makes 23 percent of its sales outside the United States and is aiming for 50 percent.