During their daily press briefing, the Prime Ministers press office announced that David Cameron has appointed Jack Ma to advise him on business.
Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, will be joining the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Group and “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”.
This announcement comes at interesting times in conjunction with the state visit to Britain by Chinese President Xi Jinping. Outside of ecommerce the Chinese are about to invest in the proposed new Hinkley Point nuclear reactor but there is still some strain surrounding China’s human rights record which the Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn is keen to press.
On the ecommerce front this becomes particularly interesting. We know that UKTI are changing from a heavy focus on trade missions to the digital economy. In particular UKTI are aiming to provide as much assistance as possible to small businesses to assist them growing overseas sales. It’s therefore no surprise that David Cameron values the input of Jack Ma, who can open the doors to millions of Chinese buyers hungry for UK goods.
Alibaba appointed Amee Chande who will serve as the managing director of Alibaba Group in the U.K. and Rodrigo Cipriani Foresio to serve as the managing director of Alibaba Group in Italy. Both will report to Michael Evans, President of Alibaba Group.
Amee Chande was previously the Managing Director of NutriCentre, a health and wellness subsidiary of Tesco, was managing director of Staples UK, and has also held senior roles at Walmart and McKinsey. Rodrigo Cipriani Foresio has been promoting the best of Italy – products, media, culture and companies – to the world for the past 25 years through a number of roles in both the public and private sectors including President of Cinecitta Istituto Luce srl, President and CEO of Buonitalia, numerous senior positions at Mediaset, and Advisor to the Ministry of Cultural Heritage.
In the coming months, Alibaba will further expand its physical presence in Europe to include offices in France and Germany.
Michael Evans, president of Alibaba Group elaborated on the appointments saying “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. We are putting in place a strong team of experts in our Italian and U.K. offices that will help European brands, retailers and government partners understand the opportunities in China and work directly with them in local language, in-country, to get their products into the hands of Chinese consumers.”