Alibaba to invest $865m in home improvement chain Easyhome in new retail push

The logo of Alibaba Group is seen inside the company's headquarters in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province early November 11, 2014. REUTERS/Aly Song

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. plans to buy a 15 per cent stake in a chain of Chinese home improvement and furniture stores as part of its pushing into “new retail,” the company said Sunday.

The e-commerce giant will invest about 5.45 billion yuan ($865 million) in Beijing Easyhome Furnishing Chain Store Group Co., and support the digital transformation of its 223 stores by applying Alibaba’s expertise in cloud and logistics platforms, it said in an emailed statement.

The deal adds to founder Jack Ma’s shopping spree in brick-and-mortar retailers that has shaken up supermarkets and department stores by linking Alibaba’s online business with physical stores — the premise of the “new retail” initiative.

While Alibaba earlier this month reported revenue that topped analyst estimates and raised its growth forecast, its shares tumbled after investments in brick-and-mortar assets and digital media squeezed profit margins in the December quarter. The company also said it will buy 33 percent of Chinese payments giant Ant Financial.

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