Amazon sales up 43% as it reports bumper growth

Amazon reported a huge sales increase for the first quarter of 2018 as it beat analyst expectations in its financial results.

The Seattle-based firm reported sales of 51 billion dollars (£36.7 billion) for the first three months of the year, an increase of 43% on the 35.7 billion dollars (£25.6 billion) the company posted this time last year.

Amazon's net income also rose to 1.6 billion dollars (£1.14 billion), compared with 724 million dollars (£520 million) at this stage last year.

The results were above analyst predictions, with Amazon Web Services (AWS), the on-demand cloud computing platform branch of the company, being a key driver in the firm's growth - accounting for 5.4 billion dollars in revenue.

"AWS had the unusual advantage of a seven-year head start before facing like-minded competition, and the team has never slowed down," Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos said.

"As a result, the AWS services are by far the most evolved and most functionality-rich. AWS lets developers do more and be nimbler, and it continues to get even better every day. That's why you're seeing this remarkable acceleration in AWS growth, now for two quarters in a row.

"A huge thank you to all our AWS customers, and you can be sure we'll keep working hard for you."

As well as AWS, Amazon has a growing portfolio of technology hardware alongside its traditional online shopping and delivery business and its Prime membership scheme, of which there are now more than 100 million members.

The firm's Echo range of smart home speakers is the market leader, while artificial intelligence-powered virtual assistant Alexa is being used by an increasing number of businesses for Skills on Echo devices or in their own products.

The company also continues to grow its Amazon Studios TV and film business and its Amazon Music subscription service.

As a result of the company's rapid growth in recent years, founder Mr Bezos has since replaced Microsoft founder Bill Gates as the world's richest man.