One of China's leading online retailers, JD, will challenge Amazon in Europe with operations across the continent in the next few years, according to the company's boss.
Liu Qiangdong, founder and chief executive of JD, said his company will launch its first European e-commerce platform and delivery services in France, with plans to roll out to the United Kingdom and Germany.
JD.com will also open an artificial intelligence research center in Cambridge and offices in London.
Liu confirmed the company plans to spend at least 1 billion euros in the next two years to build JD's logistics network in France in a bid to challenge Amazon by 2019. Amazon said it had invested 15 billion euros in Europe since 2010.
JD, which was valued at billion by Bloomberg in January, is also preparing to operate in the United States by the end of the year, starting in Los Angeles. Liu told the Financial Times that the company wants to ensure 50 percent of its profits come from outside China within 10 years.
The Cambridge research center, the company's first in Europe, will focus on artificial intelligence and big data and will open during the first half of 2019.
Liu said British talent and education is first class and the cost of hiring talent specialising in AI was now lower in Europe than in the US and China.
Following Liu's recent meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May in Beijing during her official visit to China, the e-commerce giant announced plans to sell two billion pounds of UK goods to Chinese consumers in the next two to three years, including luxury British couture and tea, chocolate, beauty products, and home appliances.
The agreement signed between JD and the British government's Department of International Trade is focused on making it easier for British companies to access the China market via JD.
The number of UK brands on JD has doubled during the last two years, with sales in 2017 growing 100 percent year-on-year. World famous brands Dyson, Clarks, Johnnie Walker, and Lipton are among the most popular with JD consumers. Over the past three years, Dyson sales on JD have increased more than 60-fold.
JD has already made a big push into Britain's renowned fashion industry. Last June, JD partnered with the UK's Farfetch, the leading global e-commerce platform for the fashion industry, to bring more niche brands from around the world to Chinese consumers.
The company also sponsored shows at London Fashion Week last autumn and partnered with the British Fashion Council/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund to help the British Fashion Council deepen its engagement with the Chinese market.
JD also counts eclectic British couture house Alexander McQueen as an early adopter of its exclusive luxury platform Toplife, allowing the house to engage with a larger local clientele, while maintaining its creative expression and unique brand identity.