Alibaba to Open Offices in Europe as U.S. Expansion Continues

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. will open offices in three European countries and expand further in the U.S. as it seeks to revive growth and reassure jittery investors.

China’s biggest e-commerce operator will enter France, Italy and Germany within the next few months, President Michael Evans said at Alibaba’s headquarters in Hangzhou Tuesday.

With a slowing domestic economy, Alibaba is stepping up its global ambitions to turn around investor sentiment battered by a $117 billion slide in market value since November. With less than a month until Singles’ Day, the busiest shopping promotion on the Chinese calendar, the company is looking to lure global merchants to sell to the country’s rising middle class.

“China should shift from exporting to importing,” Chairman Jack Ma said in Hangzhou. “This is a huge change for China, it’s an opportunity not only for China, it’s an opportunity for the world.”

Sales Promotion

Singles’ Day on Nov. 11 has morphed into China’s biggest excuse to shop, leading e-commerce operators to flood the Internet with promotions and discounts. Alibaba, which started the event in 2009, began replicating its success overseas last year, seeing sales spikes led by Russia.

The one-day promotion generated 57.1 billion yuan ($9 billion) of sales through Alibaba’s payments system in 2014 and this year’s focus is on cross-border trades for its global expansion.

Analysts are looking closely at next month’s result for signs of a revival.

“This is going to be the biggest day of the year. If this doesn’t have the same level of growth, it won’t reflect well on them,” said Mark Tanner, founder of Shanghai-based research and marketing agency China Skinny. “There is a lot of negative sentiment particularly in America where potential stock traders are, so they really need to show the kind of growth that they’ve shown over the previous years.”

To meet rising demand for quality goods, the company is bringing in more international brands, including L’Oreal and Apple. In August, it reached an agreement to bring the Macy’s Inc. online store to China.

“Alibaba will become the global infrastructure in the future,” Evans said at his first public appearance since taking the role in August.

Location-based services will be another focus of expansion this year. About 100,000 brick-and-mortar stores in China, including those operated by Suning Commerce Group Co. and Intime Retail Group Co. will take part in Singles’ Day.

Source: Bloomberg News

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