China’s most valuable internet company, Alibaba, has announced plans to open an office in Australia. Alibaba announced at an event in Hangzhou that it would open an Australian office “later this year”.

James Hudson, the chief executive of the NSW branch of the Australia-China Business Council, will join the business. John O’Loghlen, a New Zealand-born entrepreneur, has also joined the company.

Alibaba, listed on the New York Stock Exchange with a market value of nearly $ 200 billion, has had Maggie Zhou in charge of the Australia and New Zealand region for at least two years.

The company signalled that the move to establish an Australian office is designed to help local brands tap into the gigantic Chinese market, where Alibaba has 407 million active buyers on its platforms. However, the decision to establish a fully-fledged office in Australia will fuel speculation it sees an opportunity for Australian consumers to buy products on its sites.

“We see a lot of potential in the Australian market as Alibaba continues its globalisation efforts. 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 a statement.

 

Australia ranked as the fifth top-selling country into China during the company’s global shopping festival last year, Alibaba said.

A number of Australian retailers, including Woolworths, Bellamy’s, Blackmores and Chemist Warehouse, have signed up to officially sell products on Tmall, Alibaba’s Chinese language platform used by businesses to sell goods to consumers on the mainland. Many well-known Australian products are sold on Alibaba properties by consumers to other consumers.

Last November, the company’s “Singles Day” promotion in China was blamed for creating a severe shortage of Australian baby formula products, including Bellamy’s.

Last year the company said it would expand into France, Germany and Italy. It has already established a foothold in the US.

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