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It's Official: Amazon.fr Will Launch on Thursday

[London, ENGLAND] Finally ending all the speculation, Amazon.com confirmed on Tuesday that it will launch its new French site, Amazon.fr, on Thursday morning.

The French site is Amazon's third in Europe, following the U.K. and Germany. It will be supported by offices in Guyancourt and a distribution center in Orleans, although French customers will have their queries handled via Amazon's pan-European customer service center in the Netherlands.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon's founder and chief executive, expressed his thanks to all the French users who have purchased books, CDs and other products from Amazon.com over the past five years.

"With the launch of Amazon.fr, we're making the Amazon shopping experience -- with our obsession on customers -- available to French-speaking customers everywhere," said Bezos.

Amazon now has a substantial presence in Europe with sites already established in the U.K. and Germany. Not only is Amazon.co.uk the top e-commerce site in the U.K., Amazon.com remains one of the most popular destinations for British consumers.

Diego Piacentini, Amazon.com senior vice president and general manager, international, said the new store has has been created for and designed by French people. He said that for the first time, people around the world will be able to gain fast, easy access to French literature, music, film and culture.

"As with the universal Amazon focus on the customer experience, we'll provide vast selection, great prices, excellent customer service and 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week convenience. This is one further step in our plans to become a global merchandiser," said Piacentini.

Amazon is pursuing a varied strategy to maintain its top spot in e-commerce, establishing a direct presence in major markets while also investing in other retailers which share a similar vision of "making shopping easier and more convenient."

Amazon's has made investments in, among others, online pharmacy Drugstore.com, pet products retailer Pets.com, Internet grocer HomeGrocer.com, and discount sporting goods retailer Gear.com. It also has minority interests in specialist gift retailer WeddingChannel.com, online consumer credit company NextCard and delivery service Kozmo.com.