Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has confirmed that it would expand its operations to Australia by the end of this year as part of its global expansion plan. The announcement comes just days after the Hangzhou-based company acquired controlling stake in Southeast Asian e-commerce player Lazada for $1 billion. An Alibaba spokesperson said in a statement, “We see a lot of potential in the Australian market.”

After Buying Lazada, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd Expands To Australia

Alibaba starts hiring executives

The online retail giant has already made a key hire for its Australian operations. New South Wales (NSW) state chief of the Australia-China Business Council, James Hudson will join the Chinese company’s Australian headquarters next month. New Zealand-born entrepreneur John O’Loghlen has also joined the company. Alibaba signaled that the move would help Australian businesses tap into the Chinese market, where it has more than 407 million active users.

The company aims to work closely with Australian brands and partners. Many Australian brands and retailers like Bellamy’s Organic, Woolworths, Blackmores, Jessica’s Suitcase, and others are popular in China. They already have setup stores on Tmall Global. However, experts believe that Alibaba sees an opportunity to get Australian consumers to buy goods on its sites.

Alibaba aims to reduce its reliance on China

The move signals Alibaba’s intent to lower its reliance on China as its economy has started slowing. Last year, the company said it would expand into Germany, France, and Italy. It has already invested in several US-based startups, including Jet.com. The Jack Ma-led company will also set up operations in India by the end of this year. It has invested in Indian mobile payment firm Paytm and e-commerce platform Snapdeal.

Earlier this month, Alibaba said it had agreed to acquire 66% stake in Lazada for $1 billion. Founded in 2012, Lazada is one of the largest e-commerce players in the Southeast Asia. It gives the Chinese company a proven management team, a strong foundation, and a growing consumer base outside China.