Alibaba’s South Asian platform Daraz names new CEO in latest executive reshuffling at the Chinese e-commerce giant

Daraz Group, a South Asian online shopping platform owned by Alibaba Group Holding, has named a new chief executive, amid continued leadership reshuffling at the Chinese e-commerce giant.

James Dong, who already runs Southeast Asian e-commerce platform Lazada Group, has been appointed as the platform’s acting CEO, Daraz Group said in a statement on Wednesday. He replaced Daraz founder Bjarke Mikkelsen as head of the company, taking over all his existing duties.

Daraz and Lazada, another Alibaba subsidiary, have long had “extensive collaborations and synergies”, the company said. Dong was installed to “support the long-term healthy development” of Daraz, and to lead the two firms towards “greater mutual learning and collaboration”, according to the company.

Alibaba also owns the South China Morning Post.

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The new CEO will work to deepen integration between Daraz and its sister companies, and the move aims to bring the company a “more focused strategy and efficient business model”, Mikkelsen, the founder, said in the company statement.

Dong, 44, took over as Lazada CEO in June 2022 after stints running the company’s Thailand and Vietnam operations. Prior to that, Dong was Alibaba’s head of globalisation strategy and corporate development.

The new appointment is the latest executive reshuffling at Alibaba, which has been making a series of moves to revamp its sprawling empire in the face of intensifying competition from emerging players, both foreign and domestic. In March 2023 it announced a group-wide overhaul with a plan to split the company into six independently-run business units, although efforts to spin off its cloud computing unit have since been nixed.

Last month, the e-commerce juggernaut reshuffled the top ranks of its biggest domestic profit earner, Taobao and Tmall Group (TTG), and installed TTG chairman Eddie Wu Yongming as the group’s new CEO.

The appointment, which came two weeks after Pinduoduo owner PDD Holdings surpassed Alibaba in market value, was seen as part of the company’s effort to sharpen its focus on becoming more “artificial intelligence-driven” and consumer-oriented to fend off rivals.

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Alibaba has also been taking more steps to boost its international businesses, as budget shopping platforms Shein and Temu, another PDD brand, rapidly expand.

The company last month injected US$634 million into Lazada, taking the total amount of cash injections to the Singapore-headquartered company to around US$7.4 billion since Alibaba acquired it in 2016.

In the three months ending September, Alibaba’s international operations grew 53 per cent, outstripping growth in China, which has been weighed down by a sluggish economy.

Daraz covers markets totalling more than 450 million people – including Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka – but it has faced challenges amid a global economic slowdown and sweeping lay-offs in the technology sector. The company in February last year cut 11 per cent of its workforce, affecting about 360 people.

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