Report: Amazon eyes supermarkets and distributors in France

Online retailer is exploring deals that could help grow its international footprint

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Nearly two months after finalizing its purchase of Whole Foods Market in the U.S., Amazon has reportedly reached out to various French supermarket operators to negotiate distribution deals and acquisitions.

French news site Le Monde said Amazon had approached Groupe Casino’s Monoprix division, Intermarche and Systeme U. Amazon declined to comment on the story, but sources with Casino told the newspaper it had no interest in selling its food retail chain. There has also been speculation that Amazon could be interested in bidding on Carrefour, which is headquartered in France and operates more than 12,000 stores in more than 30 countries.

The paper also said Amazon was looking to open approximately 15 physical retail locations in France, with a particular focus on Paris, within the next two years. It’s believed the locations would be used for its checkout-free grocery retail model called Amazon Go, which it’s currently testing in Seattle. Amazon is also said to be looking for brick-and-mortar locations in the U.K. for the same reason.

While Amazon looks to expand its international retail footprint, the European Union is ordering it to pay $295 million in back taxes.

Margrethe Vestager, the EU official in charge of antitrust issues, said Amazon had unfairly profited from special low tax conditions since 2003 in Luxembourg, where its European headquarters are based. As a result, almost three quarters of Amazon’s profits in the EU were not taxed, she said.

“In other words, Amazon was allowed to pay four times less tax than other local companies subject to the same national tax rules,” she said. The issue is not so much that the companies got tax breaks but that they were available only to them.

Amazon said it believed it had not received any special treatment from Luxembourg and would consider appealing. “We paid tax in full accordance with both Luxembourg and international tax law.: