The Chinese online retailer is reported to be putting together a UK retail team.
It is understood that a small group of executives has been hired, based at the company’s London offices. According to The Telegraph, plans to launch in the UK are in development with the team, with the help of industry consultants. Alibaba is actively pursuing a recruitment drive for more UK based staff.
An existing headquarters in London has so far concentrated on maintaining services such as the company’s payments system, Alipay.
Alibaba has recently made a move into bricks-and-mortar retail in Europe, opening its first physical store, AliExpress in Spain, in August. The Spanish store offers technology and electricals and was the retailer’s first bricks-and-mortar premises outside China.
Retail experts are speculating that the company may be planning to launch on the UK high street.
In May, Alibaba expanded its AliExpress platform for small businesses, allowing retailers from outside China to sell goods through the marketplace. The platform currently sells to 150 countries, and third-party sellers from additional nations are gradually being introduced, with sellers from Spain, Italy, Russia and Turkey the latest to join.
Alibaba has grown from an online marketplace into an e-commerce giant with interests ranging from financial services to artificial intelligence.
One of China’s largest companies, Alibaba is now valued at $480b, according to Forbes, and is eyeing a stock market listing in Hong Kong. The company is already listed in the US, and reports suggest that an announcement of plans to proceed with a multi-billion-dollar Hong Kong listing may be imminent.