Chinese companies continue to be drawn to France. During a meeting yesterday with French President Francois Hollande, Alibaba CEO Jack Ma confirmed that he would be opening an ‘Alibaba Embassy’ in France with the objective of helping French businesses more easily export their products to China and, obviously, sell on Alibaba’s mega e-commerce platform. To mark what the French administration hopes will be the start of a fruitful partnership, President Hollande offered Jack Ma a Withings Activité. The subject of LaPoste serving as Alibaba’s principal logistics partner in Europe was reportedly also discussed, but those discussions appear to be at the very early stages.
The opening of Alibaba’s ‘hub’ in France will cap a long campaign of diplomacy from the French government to woo Alibaba to France. In May 2014, France’s foreign affairs minister Laurent Fabius first signed an agreement with Ma while in China which would help ease French companies’ path to working with Alibaba and, by default, exporting to China. The two met again late last year during which Ma was reported to express interest in opening a ‘hub’ in France. Reportedly attracted by France’s abundance of luxury goods and strategic geographic location, Ma was decided that France via their new ‘hub’ would be a key part of Alibaba’s European strategy. They’ve also been establishing partnerships elsewhere in Europe to cover off other needed services for their platform such as microfinancing for European SMEs and marketplace management.
Expanding into Europe and getting French and other European brands and vendors on their marketplace is not only offers significant opportunity for those brands and vendors, but also to Alibaba who have been making concerted efforts to fight back counterfeit claims. Getting direct access to more high quality, validated products from European vendors is also a smart way to aleve shoppers’ concerns about buying on their sites.