It’s hard to deny the influence the Alibaba Group has on the global retail industry across its eight companies, including China’s largest wholesale platforms, Alibaba.com and Tmall.com, used by the likes of Asos.com and Burberry to sell to China’s 1.4 billion population.
In August China’s biggest ecommerce operator signed exclusive partnerships with a further 20 fashion brands, including Zara and Timberland. With a view to growing its European operation, Ma led Alibaba to open its new European headquarters in London’s Canary Wharf in October and hired the first UK managing director, Amee Chande.
He also oversaw Alibaba’s growth in revenue across its Chinese retail marketplaces by 32% to £2.3bn in the quarter to September 30, with mobile accounting for 62% of sales. Keen to embrace mcommerce, in March the group also showed it might on the global stage by acquiring a £133m stake in messaging app Snapchat.
Ma has, however, had to defend Alibaba’s reputation. In May luxury goods manufacturer Kering sued the ecommerce giant, claiming it is complicit in the sale of fake handbags, while a month earlier the American Apparel & Footwear Association described Taobao as “one of the biggest platforms for counterfeit goods worldwide”.