Alibaba taps Jeff Zhang to oversee consolidated retail division

By Reuters

Mar 09, 2015 11:09 PM EDT

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd appointed Jeff Zhang to oversee its main services on Monday, bringing Taobao, Tmall and Juhuasuan into a newly created "China Retail Marketplaces" division.

The appointment marks one of the highest-profile personnel shuffles since China's largest e-commerce company went public in September. Together with the creation of the new division, the move will streamline operations and enhance efficiency.

The company, which now handles more ecommerce than and eBay Inc combined, has been struggling to sustain the rip-roaring pace of growth it enjoyed in past years as it gains scale.

It's unclear how Zhang's appointment affected Yilei Wang, who was President of the Tmall retail website.

On Monday, Chinese news website reported that Wang had been dismissed from his post, though the company declined to comment on his current situation.

Shares in the company ended 2.2 percent lower at $82.53 on the New York stock exchange.

Alibaba's eBay-like Taobao remains its largest retail service, often referred to as a consumer-to-consumer website because of its focus on transactions between individual or smaller buyers and sellers.

Tmall was envisioned as more of a platform for brands to sell to consumers, and is growing faster than Taobao. Juhuasuan is Alibaba's discount-retail service.

Revenue growth, at its lowest level since at least 2013, and margins slipped in the quarter ending in December as sales through mobile devices, typically smaller-ticket items, accounted for a bigger slice of total sales than in the previous quarter.

Growth at Tmall, however, is far outpacing Taobao. Tmall's gross merchandise value rose 60 percent for the three months ending in December, while Taobao's climbed a more modest 49 percent.

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