In a significant boost to the Australian retail sector, China’s top online retailer, Alibaba, has confirmed its plans in opening its Australia headquarters by the end of the year.
In fact, Alibaba has already started off with an office which was opened without any media fanfare in mid-April. It will be lining up a bigger team in the coming months.
Known as the ‘Amazon of China’, the Alibaba Group boasts of many online marketplaces such as Tmall and payments platform Alipay. A report in Smart Company quoted Maggie Zhou, Alibaba’s managing director for Australia and New Zealand, as saying that Australia’s high-quality health and baby products will be one of its focal areas.
“These categories are among our top-selling international product categories, and are sought-after by many consumers in China,” Zhou said.
Listed on the New York Stock Exchange, the Jack Ma-founded Alibaba commands a market value of nearly US$200 billion. According to The Australian Financial Review, Alibaba has already recruited the top professionals for the Australian foray.
James Hudson, the chief executive of the NSW branch of the Australia-China Business Council, will be joining in May. One New Zealand-born entrepreneur named John O’Loghlen already joined the Australian team. So far, Maggie Zhou has been handling both Australia and New Zealand businesses from her office in Hangzhou.
Alibaba’s rationale on the Australian office is that it will be for helping local Aussie brands to tap into the massive Chinese market. It cites 407 million active buyers on its platforms as a phenomenal boost to local brands.
“We aim to have dedicated country operations to work closely with Australian merchants and partners, and it is our plan to establish an office in Australia in late 2016 to better help local brands and merchants to access to the Chinese consumer market,” the company said in an emailed statement to the AFR.
According to Frank Granziera, CEO of Sydney-based Olive Oil Skincare Company, it is good news for Australian retailers. Granziera sells 15 percent of his stock through the Alibaba site, Tmall.
Many Australian retailers such as Woolworths, Bellamy’s, Blackmores, and Chemist Warehouse have already signed up to sell their products on Tmall, the retailer’s Chinese language platform for selling goods to the mainland.