The man behind Amazons private brand juggernaut Kindle is leading the e-behemoth’s daring endeavor to create retail of the future. Website Re/code has uncovered new details on Amazon’s plans for expansion into physical retail. They come a day after General Growth Properties CEO Sandeep Mathrani the leader of a large shopping mall company said he believed Amazon was planning on opening 300 to 400 bookstores.

According the Re/code:

The Amazon retail store initiative is being led by Steve Kessel, a longtime Amazon executive whose team launched the first Kindle private brand e-reader and who is very tight with CEO Jeff Bezos, according to three sources familiar with the group.

Kessel is widely respected inside Amazon, where he is known as a low-ego leader with greater emotional intelligence than some other senior executives at the company, according to two sources. He joined Amazon in 1999 and left in 2011 or 2012 to take a sabbatical. He started working on this initiative when he came back. The specifics of Kessel’s project had been a secret internally for a long time, but his group has attracted more attention since it opened up Amazon’s first brick-and-mortar store in Seattle in the fall.

The store, called Amazon Books, sells a few thousand books chosen in part based on customer reviews from And of course the store of the future destroys the old school private label paradigm by confidently assuming that Amazons private brands are brands and behaving accordingly. The store proudly features Amazon’s private brand products including Kindle Fire tablets and the Echo voice-controlled speaker.


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Christopher Durham
Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.