February 11, 2018 / 5:04 AM / 7 months ago

Alibaba broadens offline reach with $865 million Easyhome stake

BEIJING (Reuters) - Alibaba Group Holding (BABA.N) will pay about 5.45 billion yuan ($866 million) for a 15 percent stake in China’s Easyhome, a home improvement chain, as the internet giant expands its investments in offline and retail businesses.

FILE PHOTO: A sign of Alibaba Group is seen during the fourth World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, China, December 3, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

The investment underscores the company’s retail strategy, aimed at leveraging offline and online activities, Alibaba said in a statement.

Easyhome, which started operations in 1999, is China’s second-biggest home improvement supplies and furniture chain operator, the statement said. The Beijing-based company reported more than 60 billion yuan in sales last year.

Alibaba has been making sizable investments in the country’s retail sector since 2015, when it took a 20 percent stake in local electronics retailer Suning.com Co (002024.SZ) for $4.6 billion.

In November, Alibaba agreed to take a $2.9 billion stake in China’s top hypermarket operator, Sun Art Retail Group Ltd (6808.HK).

“Physical stores serve an indispensable role during the consumer journey, and should be enhanced through data-driven technology and personalized services in the digital economy,” Alibaba Chief Executive Officer Daniel Zhang said at the time.

Last year, Alibaba also led the $2.6 billion privatization of Intime Retail Group Co as part of its move into bricks and mortar activities.

Reporting By Matthew Miller; editing by Richard Pullin

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