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Alibaba has appointed country managers to run its U.K. and Italian offices, as it looks to help businesses sell into China and further expand its position on the continent.
The company's London office will serve as Alibaba's European hub with Amee Chande, a former Wal-Mart and Staples U.K. executive taking the reins. Rodrigo Cipriani Foresio, who was previously the chief executive of the online imported Italian food store Buonitalia, will head up the Milan office.
Alibaba hopes to become the "gateway to China" for European brands selling on their numerous e-commerce platforms. The New York-listed company said the country offices would also assist with outbound and inbound logistics and facilitate online payments for Chinese consumers and offline payments for Chinese tourists.
"Chinese consumers are looking for quality, authentic international products and global brands. Europe is a logical first step with its diverse range of unique brands and high-quality products" Michael Evans, president of Alibaba Group, said in a press release on Tuesday.
Chande and Foresio will report directly to Evans.
The announcement comes a day after Jack Ma, Alibaba's founder, was appointed as a business advisor to U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron. Ma's role will be to "provide particular help and advice on how to get small and medium-sized British businesses boosting their exports and in particular accessing Chinese markets through platforms like Alibaba", according to a spokesperson for Cameron.
Alibaba's move also coincides with a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping, as Britain looks to forge closer economic ties with the world's second-largest economy.
The sprawling business empire built by Ma has been looking to move beyond its home market in other areas too. Earlier this year Aliyun, Alibaba's cloud division, struck a series of partnerships – including one with Intel – which will see it use existing data centers built by the partner companies to push its own services. In August, the company set up its international cloud headquarters in Singapore.