Online retail goliath Alibaba launches Melbourne office

Alibaba office in China. Source: Alibaba.com

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is the latest online retail juggernaut to lay roots in Australia, after opening its first Australian office in Melbourne on the weekend.

The company, whose websites sold $US560 million worth of products in 2016 and whose founder and chairman Jack Ma has a personal fortune estimated at $37 billion, has opened a local base on Collins St as it attempts to grow its earnings across Australia and New Zealand.

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Alibaba currently has around 1300 Australian brands and 400 New Zealand brands using its websites, which includes the business-to-consumer website Tmall.

Alibaba Jack Ma founder online retail

Alibaba founder Jack Ma. Source: www.alibabagroup.com

The news comes just two months after online retailer Amazon announced it would be setting up shop in Australia in September this year, with retail experts then fearing the foreign online invasion could spell doom for the local retail industry.

Alibaba’s impact locally could be even more pronounced, with the Chinese company’s sites generating as many transactions as Amazon and eBay combined in 2016.

In a sign of the company’s global power, Ma met with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last week, and with new US President Donald Trump last month.