JD.com Changes Leadership, CEO Xu Lei Will Retire for Personal Reasons

Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com announced on May 11th that its current CEO, Xu Lei, has resigned from his position due to personal reasons. The company’s CFO, Sandy Xu, will take over as the new CEO and Xu Lei will smoothly hand over his responsibilities before retiring in June. Following his retirement, he will serve as the first chairman of JD.com‘s advisory committee.

Richard Liu, the founder of JD.com, made a strong comeback at the end of last year by leading multiple rounds of adjustments in organization, strategy and business objectives. He reduced organizational reporting levels and mobilized employee energy to cope with the challenging macro environment and increasingly fierce industry competition. Additionally, he identified “low-price strategy” as the core direction for JD Retail over the next three years.

LatePost reported that in recent internal company meetings, Liu has consistently been the individual responsible for determining the company’s strategy and providing critiques on business development matters. Unlike his approach during executive meetings from 2019 to 2020, he no longer presents suggestions with a disclaimer of leaving final decisions up to others.

Xu Lei’s expectations were met, and he has always been aware of his own position. During an interview with LatePost in 2019, Xu expressed that he believed Liu had never truly left and that Liu simply needed to adapt his role as circumstances changed.

Xu Lei, who was born in 1974, joined JD.com at the age of 35 and has since become one of its longest-serving executives. He shares a longstanding relationship with Liu and is highly regarded by many within the company for their rare understanding.

After Xu Lei joined JD.com, the company experienced a reversal of its previous decline. In Q2 2020, JD.com‘s quarterly active users increased by 30% YoY to reach 30 million people – the highest growth rate in 11 quarters. By 2021, JD.com‘s net income had reached 951.6 billion yuan ($138 million), representing a YoY growth of 27.6%. It was in September of that year that Xu Lei became President of JD.com and later appointed as CEO and Executive Director of the Board in April 2022.

Sandy Xu, the recently appointed CEO of the group, is 46 years old. She joined JD.com in 2018 and was promoted from Vice President of Finance to Senior Vice President. In June 2020, she took on the role of Group CFO. A JD.com insider stated that she can work closely with Richard Liu.

In July 2018, Xu Lei became the CEO of JD.com. He spent over four months analyzing the issues present in the company’s e-commerce channel at that time. During this period, Sandy Xu assisted in evaluating the channel’s financial situation and identified potential business risks if operational and organizational changes were not made. As a result, Xu Lei initiated several rounds of adjustments to improve both the organization and its operations.

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Over the last three years, Sandy Xu has successfully led her team in completing mergers and acquisitions for renowned listed companies like Dada and Deppon. Additionally, she spearheaded business restructuring for JD Tech while also playing a pivotal role in promoting JD.com‘s secondary listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Furthermore, she was instrumental in overseeing the listings of JD Health and JD Logistics.

During his promotions at JD.com, Xu Lei adapted to the significant changes in the environment, such as the escalation of Sino-US trade frictions in 2018, internet industry regulation in 2021, and COVID-19 sweeping across the country in 2022. Currently, Sandy Xu faces a new round of challenges as JD.com‘s market capitalization is less than $50 billion – lower than its low point at the end of October last year. Instead of expansion, it is crucial for JD.com to focus on returning to cost-effectiveness and efficiency within its existing business framework while reinvigorating organizational vitality.