Alibaba’s Southeast Asian e-commerce platform Lazada on Thursday announced that Pierre Poignant, the company’s executive president, will succeed Lucy Peng as group chief executive. Peng will remain executive chairwoman of the company. The change at the top comes less than a year after Peng, one of Alibaba’s most prominent executives, was appointed to head the company in March. At the time, Peng’s appointment to helm Lazada was widely seen as Alibaba having high hopes for Lazada’s Southeast Asian e-commerce ambitions. Peng is one of the company’s most prominent executives – she is one of the 18 co-founders and the previous chairwoman of Ant Financial, where she was instrumental in making Alipay a popular method of online payment. “Pierre is a well-respected Lazada co-founder, who has contributed tirelessly to the company for the past six years,” Peng said in a statement. “He and the team of other co-founders had the vision to build our logistics network from the ground up back in the days when no one in Southeast Asia believed in e-commerce – this valuable asset has now set us apart from the competition.” The change in leadership is part of “succession planning” for the company, according to Lazada. Ant Financial’s Lucy Peng steps down to focus on Southeast Asia Alibaba has invested over US$4 billion in its Lazada subsidiary, as Southeast Asia becomes the next battleground for China’s e-commerce giants. Alibaba, as well as rival JD.com, have stepped up efforts over the past year to carve out a bigger slice of the market in the region, either by investing in, or partnering, with various companies. Apart from Lazada, Alibaba has invested in Indonesia’s Tokopedia, while JD.com has poured money into Vietnam’s Tiki and formed a US$500 million e-commerce venture with Thailand’s Central Group. Poignant will lead Lazada’s strategic development and growth, and will continue managing the company’s operations across Southeast Asia, including markets such as Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia. He previously helped to develop and expand Lazada’s logistics network and has served in roles including chief operating officer, where he oversaw customer service, the supply chain and content production. The Singapore-based firm is up against the likes of SEA’s Shopee, as well as local firms such as Tokopedia and Bukalapak in Indonesia, all of which are fighting for market share in a fast-growing, billion-dollar e-commerce market. “2018 is a turning point for Lazada. We have improved and evolved and now come out stronger, more efficient, and more agile than the start of the year,” Poignant said in the statement, adding that Alibaba’s technology and logistics network has brought benefits to Lazada. Alibaba is the parent company of the South China Morning Post .