Alibaba looks set to expand to the real world

In an example of the blending off and online experience, Alibaba is leading a bid to take a department store chain private.

Alibaba has but in a bid of $2.6 billion for mall operator InTime as the Chinese ecommerce giant looks to expand onto the high street.

Control of Intime will also allow the ecommerce giant to explore ways to modernize a $4.5 trillion industry that hasn’t adapted well to the growing popularity of online shopping.

Alibaba bought a stake in the firm for $692 million nearly three years ago, but now it is bidding to buy it outright and delist it from the Hong Kong stock exchange.

Intime operates 29 department stores and 17 shopping malls across urban China which could give Alibaba a strong foothold.

“Our combination with Intime will enable us to tap into the long-term growth potential of a new form of retail in China powered by internet technology and data,” Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang said.

“We don’t divide the world into real or virtual economies, only the old and the new. Those who cling on to the old ways of retailing will be disrupted, and brick-and-mortar businesses will be able to create value for consumers if they are integrated with the power of mobile reach, real-time consumer insights, and technology capability to improve operating efficiency,” Zhang added.