17 Apr, 2017 Alibaba taking to the Silk Road
Chinese online shopping giant Alibaba is taking to the new Silk Road with a search for warehouse locations along the route of the recently launched China to UK rail link.
The retailer is understood to have approached property developers across the continent who have buildings in locations which are close to the new train line, which follows the historic Silk Road route.
The first UK to China train left Britain last week, traveling along a route which the Government hopes will galvanise trade links.
The 16-day, 7,456 mile journey passes through China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France before crossing under the Channel and arriving in the east end of London in Barking. Traveling by rail to China – the world’s second biggest economy – is cheaper than sending freight by air and faster than voyage by ship.
Despite being dominant in the Chinese market, Alibaba has not yet made meaningful inroads in Europe or threatened Amazon, which continues to dominate the e-commerce in the West.
Alibaba began seeking a presence in Europe as far back as 2015 when it announced the opening of offices in London which would serve as its European headquarters.
At the end of last year it quietly opened its first UK warehouse, in Dunstable, and has also sought locations in other European countries. In January, the Bulgarian government said it had met with representatives from the Chinese company to discuss setting up a logistics centre to service the eastern part of the continent.
Now, Alibaba has quietly been seeking similar hubs in countries where the train passes through, which as well as bringing goods from China could also service deals with Western retailers looking to move into China.
British brands such as Mountain Warehouse, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer have used Alibaba’s online marketplace Tmall to launched in China, giving them an instant platform in a country with a growing middle class.