Uber hires Amazon UK director as northern Europe chief ahead of London appeal

Uber has snapped up an Amazon UK director as its new northern Europe chief, just weeks ahead of an appeal hearing over its cancelled London licence.

The ride-hailing app has announced the appointment of Jamie Heywood as the new regional general manager for its Northern and Eastern Europe operations, which looks after Uber's business in a dozen countries including the UK.

Mr Heywood will join the company next month, having most recently served as the director of Amazon's electronics division in the UK, covering both the retail and marketplace businesses.

He previously spent time in the telecoms industry, working as managing director of Virgin Mobile in the UK between 2011 and 2014, and helping launch the company's business in India as well as Orange's Thailand division.

He also spent three years as chief executive of Virgin Mobile in China.

Uber safety measures
Uber safety measures

Commenting on Mr Heywood's appointment, Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, vice president and regional general manager of Uber in Europe, the Middle East & Africa, said: "His wide range of international experience in both regulated industries and scaling fast-growing businesses will be invaluable for the next phase of Uber's development.

"Jamie's leadership will also be crucial as we implement major changes across Europe including more safety features, improvements for drivers and a new approach to partnering with cities."

Mr Heywood replaces Jo Bertram, who resigned from her post in August last year, according to a filing at Companies House, three weeks before the surprise decision by Transport for London (TfL) not to renew Uber's private hire licence in London.

The company denied that the move was driven by Uber's licensing issues.

But Ms Bertram - who was in the role for four years - said in October: "Given some of our current challenges, I'm also convinced that now is the right time to have a change of face, and to hand over to someone who will be here for the long haul and take us into the next phase."

The announcement regarding her replacement comes just weeks before the company is set to have its appeal heard over its right to operate in London.

TfL decided not to renew Uber's licence last September on the grounds that it was "not fit and proper" to operate in the capital.

It raised a number of issues, including Uber's approach to reporting serious criminal offences, how drivers' medical certificates are obtained, how criminal record checks are carried out, and its use of technology which allegedly helps it to evade law enforcement officials.

Uber launched its appeal in mid-October and the case will be heard at Westminster Magistrates' Court at the end of June.

The company has also added new faces to its UK board in recent months, appointing former Bank of England adviser Laurel Powers-Freeling as its first UK chair.

Susan Hooper - a former managing director of British Gas Residential Services - and Roger Parry - chairman of data analytics and market research firm YouGov - joined the board as non-executive directors earlier this year.

The Uber app - which enables users to book cars using their smartphones and is available in more than 40 towns and cities across the UK - is used by some 3.5 million passengers in London, where around 40,000 drivers are registered.

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