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David Beckham becomes AliExpress ambassador as firm faces EU probe

Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham waits for the first leg of the team's CONCACAF Champions Cup soccer quarterfinal against Monterrey. April 3, 2024. Florida.
Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham waits for the first leg of the team's CONCACAF Champions Cup soccer quarterfinal against Monterrey. April 3, 2024. Florida. Copyright Lynne Sladky/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Lynne Sladky/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved
By Eleanor Butler
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Chinese giant Alibaba, which owns the low-cost marketplace AliExpress, seeks to boost sales in the face of growing competition from Temu and Shein.

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The former England football captain David Beckham will promote AliExpress after the site secured its biggest global brand ambassador deal to date.

Alibaba, which owns AliExpress, announced the partnership on Monday as part of its publicity drive surrounding the UEFA Euro 2024 tournament.

The European Football Championship, of which Alibaba is a sponsor, will begin in June.

Beckham will be the face of Alibaba's 'Score More with AliExpress' campaign, which offers deals to celebrate the sporting event, although the footballer's pay packet has not been disclosed.

The partnership comes after the European Commission launched a formal investigation into AliExpress in March.

The probe will look at whether the platform is doing enough to crack down on risky products, such as fake medicines.

Under the Digital Services Act (DSA), the Commission will equally decide whether AliExpress has sufficiently protected minors from accessing pornographic material on the site.

"AliExpress is committed to creating a safe and compliant marketplace for all consumers," said a company spokesperson at the time.

The Beckham partnership has also been agreed against a backdrop of intense business competition between low-cost marketplaces.

AliExpress' China-based rivals Shein and Temu are attracting an increasing number of global customers thanks to aggressive marketing campaigns.

Temu notably broadcast adverts during the last two Super Bowl competitions, while Shein is leveraging influencer partnerships to target Gen Z consumers.

Although a little slower to the international market, Alibaba has reported strong earnings in recent months.

The firm's international division (AIDC) saw revenues rise 45% year-on-year during the most recent January to March quarter.

"The strong performance was driven by growth of AIDC’s cross-border businesses, in particular growth contributed by the Choice business on AliExpress," said the firm's earnings report.

Despite their growing popularity, Shein, Alibaba, and Temu have all been accused of selling goods linked to exploitative labour practices.

In 2019, Alibaba’s co-founder Jack Ma Yun sent a message to employees saying: "I personally think that being able to work 996 is a huge blessing".

Ma was referring to a 9am to 9pm schedule, six days a week.

"Many companies and many people don’t have the opportunity to work 996," Ma added. "If you don’t work 996 when you are young, when can you ever work 996?"

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