Alibaba undergoes top-down reshuffle to rescue falling growth rates

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Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has revealed plans to reshuffle its organisational structure, including proposals to appoint new executive team members.

In a letter to the company’s employees, CEO Daniel Zhang wrote that a “’diversified business governance’ will become Alibaba’s new organisational strategy” as it looks towards the future. Zhang added, “We want to explore new business governance approaches to drive more innovation and creativity across our teams and businesses.”

The company’s deputy chief financial officer Toby Xu will step into outgoing CFO Maggie Wu’s role next April. Wu, who has been with Alibaba for fifteen years, said Xu’s appointment was part of a “relay race” and that the company “must have new generations of talent” to take it forward.

Wu has helped lead three company public listings as CFO. Alibaba.com was listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2007, while Alibaba Group Holding entered on to the New York Stock Exchange in 2014 and on to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2019.

Wu will continue as a partner and she will serve as an executive director on the Alibaba board. Xu joined Alibaba three years ago from accounting firm PwC. “We are certain that Toby is the right person to serve as our new group CFO and, together with the core management team, will help lead our team towards our next success,” said Zhang, who praised the outgoing Wu as “humble and resilient.”

As part of its plans to deal with increasing competition as well as domestic regulatory challenges, Alibaba will create two new departments. The international digital commerce unit, be led by Jiang Fan, will bring together Alibaba’s overseas consumer-facing and wholesale businesses, such as AliExpress, which has customers in South America and Europe.

Trudy Dai will head up a new unit for China digital commerce that will combine the company’s wholesale and consumer-facing marketplaces. Dai will oversee all of the Chinese retail marketplaces including its community e-commerce service Taocaicai and Lingshoutong, a retail management platform for independent SMEs. The two main Alibaba marketplaces, Taobao and Tmall will also be included. Dai is a founding member and partner of the company who has served in a number of senior roles. Between 2014 and 2017 she was CFO. Earlier this year she became president of Alibaba’s community marketplace Taocaicai.

Alibaba has recently had to cut its annual growth forecast after it suffered a decline culminating in sales at its annual flagship shopping event Singles Day being recorded at their lowest ever. Its stock decreased by 11pc.

As well as its sluggish growth pace, the retail giant has had to content with the Chinese government tightening restrictions on tech and other commercial sectors. Alibaba was fined 18bn yuan recently for abusing its dominant market position.

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