Amazon plans to lay off hundreds of staff in Seattle and elsewhere

(c) Sky News 2018: <a href="">Amazon plans to lay off hundreds of staff in Seattle and elsewhere</a>

Online retail giant Amazon is cutting hundreds of roles at its Seattle headquarters and elsewhere in its consumer business.

Details of the job losses were released by a source who wished to remain anonymous.

They said the cuts, which they described as rare, would affect a few hundred people, as the company shifts resources into fast-growing areas like its work on voice assistant Alexa.

As the firm planned for 2018 it realised certain mature areas of its business no longer required as much staff for the results it was aiming to achieve, they added.

The layoffs are expected to be completed in the next few weeks, The Seattle Times reported.

Amazon did not say how many staff would be laid off and which specific offices and positions would be affected.

The company said it would consider those affected for other roles, adding it was still hiring aggressively in other areas.

"Our 2017 projections for Alexa were very optimistic, and we far exceeded them," said Jeff Bezos, Amazon's founder and chief executive, in a statement earlier this month.

"We don't see positive surprises of this magnitude very often - expect us to double down."

The firm has been exploring ways that minimise human labour. Its Amazon Go store concept - which recently opened in Seattle - involves no checkouts with all goods bought via an app .

The company hired 130,000 people worldwide last year, with its full-time and part-time headcount rising 66% from 2016 to 566,000 in 2017.

That figure includes employees at grocery chain store Whole Foods, which Amazon acquired in a deal worth $13.7bn (£10.7bn) deal last summer.

Last month, Ocado showed off the "C-3PO" robots being introduced across its own warehouses as it seeks to reduce its reliance on human workers.