Alibaba Group Holding reported a 10 per cent revenue increase in the three months ended December 31, marking its slowest sales growth since it went public in 2014, as Beijing’s scrutiny of Big Tech firms continued and consumer spending remained weak amid recent outbreaks of Covid-19 across the country. The Hangzhou-based company, parent of the South China Morning Post , said total revenue in the December quarter reached 242.58 billion yuan (US$38.07 billion), compared with 221.08 billion yuan in the same period last year, on the back of steady growth at its cloud, China commerce, local consumer services and international commerce operations. Still, that missed the 245 billion yuan consensus from analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Net income reached 20.43 billion yuan, down 74 per cent from 79.43 billion yuan a year earlier, which was worse than analysts’ consensus estimates of a 60 per cent drop to 31.5 billion yuan. The decline was mainly attributed to impairment of goodwill totalling 25.14 billion yuan and a decrease in net gains arising from changes in fair value of its equity investments. “Alibaba delivered steady progress this quarter, as we continued to execute our multi-engine growth strategy in a complex and volatile market environment,” said Alibaba chairman and chief executive Daniel Zhang Yong in a statement on Thursday. “We achieved positive momentum in key strategic businesses through a disciplined focus on capacity building and value creation to fuel our future growth. Our global annual active consumers grew at a solid pace, reaching 1.28 billion on the strength of a quarterly net increase of 43 million.” Shares of Alibaba in Hong Kong tanked 6.7 per cent to a record-low of HK$104.90 on Thursday, ahead of its latest quarterly earnings report, as tensions heightened over Russia’s incursion into Ukraine . The company’s shares are down 11.8 per cent since the start of this year. The financial results of Alibaba, China’s biggest e-commerce services provider, are seen as a bellwether of consumer spending in the world’s most populous country and an important barometer of its economic health. In a conference call with analysts after the market closed on Thursday, Alibaba’s Zhang said a new “stimulus policy from the government” and less disruptions from Covid-19 would help revive domestic consumption. The company’s latest quarterly results reflect how China’s online retail market is no longer a two-horse race between Alibaba and JD.com, as new competitors Pinduoduo , ByteDance -owned Douyin and Kuaishou Technology grab their share of sales in the world’s largest e-commerce market . Total retail sales in the country rose at an annual rate of just 3.9 per cent in 2020 and 2021, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics, as the Covid-19 pandemic continued to disrupt industries . Alibaba, which paid a record 18.2 billion yuan antitrust fine in April last year, in December said it remains focused on three strategic growth engines – China consumption, globalisation and technology – to drive future growth. But earlier the same month, the company also sweetened employee benefits by offering more paid time-off, bigger allowances and flexible work schedules to boost morale after a challenging year that saw the company weather tightened scrutiny by Beijing. To cope with the tough environment in its home market, Alibaba has put more resources to develop new businesses, such as bargain online shopping platform Taobao Deals , community group-buying operation Taocaicai and Southeast Asian e-commerce subsidiary Lazada Group . Sales at Alibaba’s China commerce business totalled 172.23 billion yuan in the December quarter, up 7 per cent from a year earlier, to make up 71 per cent of the group’s overall revenue. For the 12 months ended December 31, its China commerce business had 882 million annual active consumers, representing a quarterly net increase of about 20 million, primarily driven by additions from Taobao Deals. Its international commerce segment grew 18 per cent last quarter to 16.45 billion yuan, providing a 7 per cent contribution to total quarterly revenue. Cloud services revenue rose 20 per cent to 19.54 billion yuan last quarter, which made up 8 per cent of the group’s overall revenue last quarter. Toby Xu, chief financial officer at Alibaba, said during the analysts’ conference call on Thursday that Alibaba Cloud’s business “from the financial and telecommunications industries partially offset” the impact of a former top customer’s decision “to stop using our overseas cloud services for its international business due to non-product-related requirements”. Xu also indicated that there was “slowing demand from customers in the internet industry, such as online entertainment and education”. Alibaba Cloud is mainland China’s leading cloud infrastructure services provider, with a 38.3 per cent share of market spending in the third quarter last year, according to data from research firm Canalys. Ranked behind it are the cloud units of Huawei Technologies Co and Tencent Holdings , with market shares of 17 per cent and 16.6 per cent, respectively. The group’s local consumer services business, which includes online food delivery platform Ele.me, saw a 27 per cent jump in sales to 12.14 billion yuan, which made up 5 per cent of total revenue.