AMAZON which is planning to close its distribution centre in Inverclyde with the loss of several hundred jobs is under pressure to refund the 2.137m of taxpayers' money it received to establish and expand it, the Herald can reveal.

The company has confirmed that consultation has started over a plan to pull out of what was its second oldest fulfilment centre, Faulds Park in Gourock where it has around 300 workers.

The Herald can reveal that the Amazon plan received three tranches of taxpayers' money between 2005 and 2011 to develop the centre.

The first £1.655m payment through Scottish Enterprise was through Regional Selective Assistance, a further £107,000 was given for a separate project and another grant of £375,000 was given to help with an expansion in 2011.

Amazon UK Services, which received the money, saw its operating profit soar by 58.5% in 2021 to £229.2m.

The planned closure comes as Amazon prepares to open new delivery warehouses in Peddimore in the West Midlands and Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham, which will employ 2,500 people.

The Scottish government described the move by Amazon as “very disappointing”.

Chris McEleny, general secretary of the Alba Party and former Inverclyde Council SNP group leader said the money should be refunded or used to help the staff at what remains one of the largest employers in the area get new jobs.

"The money should absolutely be refunded," he said. "They got that to come into the country and create the jobs. But you cannot just let that sit and sleep assuming they will be nice employers.

"Scottish Enterprise have to maintain a good relationship with them to ensure they don't shut up shop and go to another part of the UK and get another grant.

"Amazon should be asked to help fund the training and redeployment required for the workers that they are leaving on the scrap heap."

But Scottish Enterprise sources say there will be no attempt to recover the money as the conditions attached to funding had been met and are now expired.

The conditions included creating a certain number of jobs which would be retained over an agreed number of years.

When news of the new Gourock fulfilment centre emerged in 2004, Scotland's Deputy First Minister, Jim Wallace, said it was "extremely welcome" and added: "The 300 jobs it plans to create would be a major jobs boost for Inverclyde. And of course I am delighted that in the face of competition from locations elsewhere, such an innovative and creative company has chosen to expand their business in Scotland."

Amazon said the decision to open what was its second UK fulfilment centre alongside the original Milton Kenyes branch, had followed "strong international sales growth".

The Gourock warehouse is one of three that it plans to close, affecting 1,200 jobs across the UK.

Workers from the facilities in Doncaster, Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire and Gourock were to be offered roles at other Amazon locations.

It is thought unlikely that many of the workers at the Gourock site will want to relocate as there is not another Amazon facility nearby.

The Herald:

Amazon said the company remained “committed to our customers, employees, and communities across the UK”.

The Labour West of Scotland MSP Katy Clark described the closure of the Gourock warehouse as “devastating for the local community and the 300 workers who may find themselves out of a job”.

She called on the Scottish government to intervene to support the workers back into employment and said there needed to be “full transparency” over how much it had given the online retailer in the past.

“Amazon has benefitted from significant public funds over several years from the Scottish government,” she said.

Inverclyde's MP Ronnie Cowan described the news as a "serious blow" for the region and will be seeking urgent talks with the firm.

The SNP MP said he wants to see both the UK and Scottish Government intervene to see what measures can be taken over the planned shutdown.

"On the global scale of Amazon's business, I am at a loss as to how this will benefit the company going forward," he said.

"It goes without saying that in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis this will come as a hammer blow to the staff and their families."

In the first quarter of 2004,'s international segment-made up of the company's UK, German, French and Japanese operations-grew 80% year-on-year to $684m (£374m) It was to handle products from across's product range from books, music, DVDs and videos to software, PC and video games, home and garden equipment and toys.

Amazon said that the Gourock operation would "help us dispatch even more customer orders quickly and efficiently".'s decision to open a second UK fulfilment operation comes following strong international sales growth. In the first quarter of 2004,'s international segment--made up of the company's UK, German, French and Japanese operations--grew 80% year-on-year to $684 million.

The Gourock fulfilment centre will help handle future customer demand and provide network optimisation, dispatching a wide range of products including items from newer categories such as Electronics & Photo, DIY & Tools and Garden & Outdoors.

A spokesperson for Amazon said: "We’re always evaluating our network to make sure it fits our business needs and to improve the experience for our employees and customers.

“As part of that effort, we may close older sites, enhance existing facilities or open new sites, and we’ve launched a consultation on the proposed closure of three fulfilment centres in 2023.

“We also plan to open two new fulfilment centres creating 2500 new jobs over the next three years.

“All employees affected by site closure consultations will be offered the opportunity to transfer to other facilities and we remain committed to our customers, employees and communities across the UK.”

Amazon said last week that it planned to cut 18,000 jobs around the world, mostly in its head offices, in an effort to become more efficient under Andrew Jassy, who took over as chief executive in summer 2021.

The changes come as shoppers rein in spending and the online retailer faces global economic uncertainty.

Four years ago Amazon was at the centre of a court battle over an eviction notice from its landlord at the distribution warehouse in a row over rent.

The site was owned by the M7 property investment firm which gave the online giant six months' notice to quit in February.

Amazon challenged the move at the Court of Session, arguing it was entitled to a year's notice.

But the courts backed M7, though the US firm had said it will appeal.

Amazon operated the fulfilment with a 15-year lease running out in August in 2019.

It was previously owned by Scottish Enterprise, the government agency, and it was claimed the rent was as much as 60% below the market rate.

By the end of the year Amazon had struck a deal for a new lease and a new rent.

The property was originally leased from Scottish Enterprise Renfrewshire in 2004 on a 15 year lease and was sold to M7 in early 2019.