China’s ecommerce leader, Alibaba, today announced the opening of offices in London and Milan as it paves the way for a deeper push into Europe, with locations in Germany and France to follow in the ‘coming months.’ Its largest competitor in China, JD.com, just opened its first U.S. office earlier this month.
London will now serve as Alibaba’s European headquarters, helmed by Amee Chande, who draws on experience at the likes of McKinsey and Walmart. She will act as managing director for Alibaba Group’s U.K. division, joining the company in September, according to her LinkedIn profile. Until March this year, Chande was a managing director at Tesco, one of the U.K.’s largest supermarkets.
Turning to Milan, Rodrigo Cipriani Foresio will serve as the managing director for Alibaba Group in Italy. Cipriani Foresio most recently served as chairman of Cinecitta Istituto Luce, where he was responsible for “institutional relationships and the commercial area, in particular the development on digital,” according to his LinkedIn profile.
Alibaba said that the new offices, alongside the appointment of the two senior business leaders for Europe, signify “an important step toward [our] global ambitions,” adding that the country offices “will serve local brands, retailers, and government partners who seek to access the large and growing Chinese consumer class looking for high-quality international products and services.”
Alibaba’s president, Michael Evans, said the push is designed to help Europeans “understand the opportunities in China and work directly with them in local language.” (Alibaba recently launched a global push to be better understood outside China, and just opened its second data center in Silicon Valley).
“A ‘one-stop shop’ for local business, Alibaba country offices will help identify the most suitable local products for the Chinese market, help merchants sell on Alibaba’s platforms, assist with outbound and inbound logistics, and facilitate online payments for Chinese consumers and offline payments for Chinese tourists,” the company said.
The ecommerce giant is also making big moves into video streaming in its bid to become the “Netflix of China.” Just before the weekend, it submitted a $4.2 billion bid to buy Chinese video-streaming company Youku Tudou, widely seen as the country’s YouTube.