Worldview: Alibaba Group’s Latest Executive Shuffle

🇨🇳 Alibaba Group appoints James Dong as acting CEO of South Asian e-tailer Daraz. The Chinese group has replaced Bjarke Mikkelsen, founder of the struggling clothing-to-electronics e-commerce platform Daraz, which operates in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Myanmar. Dong, currently CEO of the group’s Southeast Asia-focused e-commerce business Lazada, will continue to run that multi-category platform across Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines, deepening integration and expanding efficiencies between the two subsidiaries. The appointment follows last year’s reshuffle of top executives at the group’s China headquarters which saw the promotion of younger leaders in key positions and group CEO Eddie Wu take over the Taobao and Tmall Group (TTG) unit from Trudy Dai amid stiff competition from Alibaba’s rivals. [South China Morning Post]

🇷🇼 $1 billion Timbuktoo Africa Innovation Fund to finance start-ups. The UN Development Programme has launched the funding platform, which will be based in Kigali, Rwanda but domiciled in eight cities across the continent. It appears that Cairo, Egypt and Cape Town, South Africa are where financiers for fashion-adjacent startups will most likely be based as the cities have been designated as hubs of the e-commerce and creative economy sectors, respectively. Paula Ingabire, Rwanda’s digital minister, said that participating countries would each eventually contribute around $10 million and that institutional backers like the World Bank would help raise the remaining capital. Hubs in Accra, Ghana, Lagos, Nigeria, Dakar, Senegal, Casablanca, Morocco and Nairobi, Kenya will focus on startups from other sectors. [Semafor]

🇨🇱 Chile’s retail giant Cencosud appoints Rodrigo Larrain Kaplan as CEO. The Cencosud veteran will replace interim chief executive Renato Gutierrez Gonzalez on Mar. 1 at the group, one of South America’s largest retailers, operating 48 department stores including the Paris chain and 33 shopping centres in Chile. The appointment follows months of uncertainty that saw former chairwoman Heike Paulmann Koepfer, daughter of founder Horst Paulmann, resign last month and be replaced by Julio Moura after the local regulator forbade her from simultaneously holding that role and interim CEO. [Bloomberg]

🇪🇬 Alshaya Group is closing 60 global brand stores across Egypt. Citing the country’s ongoing economic slump caused by currency devaluations and record inflation, a spokesperson for the Kuwait-based franchise and joint-venture retailer operating across the Middle East said: “We will be closing all our physical stores and [e-commerce] operations of Claires, Debenhams, Mothercare, The Body Shop and Pinkberry in Egypt… [and] reducing the number of stores… for American Eagle, Bath & Body Works, H&M, and Victoria’s Secret.” [Zawya]

🇷🇺 Russian luxury fashion resale platform Oskelly to invest in Middle East markets. The company said it is “reinvesting over $1 million” to expand to the United Arab Emirates, with new digital and AI solutions planned for local users. Founded in 2017 by siblings Albert Oskanov and Zaira Keligova, Oskelly reports an existing user base in Eastern Europe of 500,000 and a portfolio of 3,000 luxury brands. Many Russians have relocated to Dubai since the introduction of western sanctions on Russia over its war in Ukraine. [Zawya]

🇹🇳 Tunisian textile worker wages to increase 20% over the next three years. An agreement reached between the country’s Fédération Générale du Textile, de l’Habillement, Chaussure et Cuir (FGTHCC-UGTT) union and the employers’ organisation Fédération Nationale du Textile will see pay rise 6.5 percent both this year and next year and then 7 percent in 2026. “The increase is important to restore the purchasing power of workers in the sector,” said FGTHCC-UGTT general secretary Habib Al-Hazami. [Fibre2Fashion]

🇧🇩 Bangladeshi fashion factory shipments disrupted by Red Sea attacks. At least two producers in the world’s second-largest apparel exporting country have reportedly experienced shipping delays, slower lead-times and lost business opportunities as a result of ongoing disruptions caused by Yemen-based Houthi attacks on vessels in Suez Canal-bound freight routes in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. [Sourcing Journal]

🇮🇳 Manyavar’s Indian parent Vedant Fashions’ net profit rises 4.8% in Q3. The manufacturer and retailer of Indian traditional, wedding and celebration wear under the brand names Manyavar, Mohey, Mebaz, Twamev and Manthan has reported consolidated net profit of 157.71 crore rupees ($18.9 million) in the third quarter of FY24. The Kolkata-based firm founded by Ravi Modi counts 657 mono-brand stores in India and 16 overseas stores in countries including the US, UK, UAE and Canada. [Economic Times]

🇿🇦 South African fashion retail group TFG reports slower sales growth in Q3. The company cited a softer Black Friday, power cuts and delays at ports, negatively impacting the top line at the Cape Town-based company which has a portfolio of 34 retail brands, including Foschini, Markham, Connor and Britain’s Whistles and Hobbs, operating across more than 4600 outlets in 26 countries. [Reuters]

🇨🇳 Chinese beauty brands Aupres, Proya and Florasis top earned media ranking. According to influencer marketing firm WeArisma’s Beauty Leaderboards tracker from January 1 to 22, the three C-beauty brands reached the top spot on Chinese social media platforms including Weibo, Xiaohongshu and Douyin. Among international brands Guerlain, Dior Beauty and Hourglass ranked highest. [Jing Daily]

🌏 Political risks in 27 countries could undermine friendshoring strategies. The Sourcing Journal has cited Verisk Maplecroft’s latest Political Risk Dataset listing of the countries, some of them key fashion manufacturing markets like Bangladesh, Indonesia, Mexico, Poland, Thailand and Turkey, where political risks or other challenges like civil unrest, government instability, conflict and terrorism could pose challenges to brands trying to reduce supply chain exposure in China. [Sourcing Journal]

🇨🇳 Galeries Lafayette opens department store in Macau. The French luxury retail group, which has a footprint in mainland China across Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen and Chongqing, opened on Jan. 26 in the recently completed Treasure Island World Shopping Centre in the gambling hub and special administrative region. The group is looking to launch eight more locations in China by 2025 with its joint-venture partner China’s Hopson Commercial Group. [Prestige]

🇮🇳 Indian court rejects Lotus Herbals’ claim against Deepika Padukone’s brand. The Delhi High Court has rejected the Indian beauty group’s temporary injunction against the film star’s beauty brand, ruling that the defendant’s ‘Lotus Splash’ facewash does not constitute an infringement of a registered trademark held by the plaintiff in relation to its long-running range of Lotus branded products. [Economic Times]

🇨🇳 Estée Lauder casts Chinese actress Xin Zhilei as cosmetics line ambassador. The American beauty major has released an ad campaign featuring the actress known for her roles in Wong Kar-wai’s popular TV series Blossoms Shanghai. [Jing Daily]

🇷🇺 Pandora signs as presenting partner of Australian Fashion Week. The Danish jewellery brand has partnered with organiser IMG for the resort 2025 collections in Sydney from May 13 to 17. It is unclear whether the deal, which follows a naming rights partnership with Afterpay, will continue beyond the upcoming season. [Rag Trader]

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