Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. reduced its workforce by about 19,000 employees last year as it adapted to a global economic chill and shifted focus to cost efficiency.
The Hangzhou-based online retailer let go of more than 4,000 workers in the final quarter of the year, according to data in its earnings report Thursday. The largest reductions this year came in the summer when it reported its first-ever contraction in revenue.
The company’s growth has been stunted by global macroeconomic factors and China’s stringent Covid Zero policy, with lockdowns blunting consumer spending.
Alibaba said in May that it will take a “more disciplined” approach to spending and scale back expenses in areas that aren’t generating long-term value.
This shift — in line with Beijing’s incentives — marks a major change from the aggressive and wide-ranging market grab that characterized the e-commerce giant in the past.
Alibaba, which still has a workforce of 239,740, per its latest report, remains one of China’s biggest private-sector employers.
It reported sales and profit that beat average analyst expectations and its shares surged in response. Still, its job cutbacks in December increased from September, so the company seems to still be adjusting its size to deal with a slower economy — even with growing signs of a recovery taking root at home and abroad.
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd reported better-than-expected quarterly revenue on Thursday, helped by its efforts to cut costs and China’s easing of Covid-19 curbs.
The ecommerce giant has weathered a weak economy in China, which only lifted its three-year zero-Covid policy in December.
Revenue rose 2% to 247.76 billion yuan ($35.92 billion) for its fiscal third quarter to December 31, compared with a Refinitiv consensus estimate of 245.18 billion yuan drawn from 23 analysts.
Net income attributable to ordinary shareholders rose 69% to 46.82 billion yuan from 27.69 billion a year earlier.
US shares of Alibaba were up 1.8% shortly after Wall Street opened, after trading as much as 6% higher in pre-market trades.
China’s total retail sales contracted 1.8% in December, while its economy posted one its worst growth rates in nearly half a century in 2022, expanding just 3%.