* Amazon Counter launches in UK and Italy
* Online giant seeks other retail partners across Europe
* New service builds on existing locker scheme
LONDON, May 14 (Reuters) - Amazon has teamed-up with British clothing chain Next to offer a network of stores where the U.S. online retail giant's UK customers can collect their parcels.
Seeking to capitalise on the growing popularity of click & collect services, Amazon is offering delivery to hundreds of Next stores as an option on the tens of millions of items it sells online.
The new "Counter" service available from Tuesday builds on Amazon's existing parcel pick-up and locker options. In the UK Amazon has over 2,500 automated lockers with partners including supermarket groups Morrisons and the Co-operative as well as Shell petrol stations.
Amazon said the new service is also being launched in Italy, where its partners are bookstore chain Giunti and the network of Fermopoint and SisalPay stores.
"We see it as a great way to create more convenience for our customers and create a win-win situation for the retailers who partner with us," said Patrick Supanc, Amazon's director of lockers and pick-up.
He said Amazon is actively seeking more partners across Europe, from family-run corner shops to large retail chains.
Amazon said that feedback from earlier trials showed that adding Counter to a store’s retail offer helped to increase customer footfall.
"In a tough retail environment our aim is that Amazon Counter will contribute to the continued relevance and vibrancy of our stores," said Next CEO Simon Wolfson.
Next, one of Britain's pioneers in click & collect, has been grappling with the sector's structural shift from physical stores to online.
The new Amazon service works much like traditional click & collect offers.
When a customer's Amazon package arrives at the store, the customer receives an email notification with a unique barcode as well as the address and opening hours of the selected store. Customers will have 14 days to collect their parcels.
Amazon declined to disclose the commercial terms of its Counter partnerships or how much it has invested in the initiative. (Reporting by James Davey Editing by David Goodman)