Rakuten, the Japanese e-commerce giant, has announced the purchase of Alpha Direct Services (ADS), a French business specialising in logistics services tailored to on-line trading. The deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, marks Rakuten’s first logistics investment outside Japan. The value of the transaction has not been disclosed. Founded in 2002, ADS is based in Beauvais, north of Paris and serves more than100 on-line traders, ranging from small businesses to international brands such as Nestlé, L’Oreal and Sarenza. Employing 300 staff, ADS posted a 2011 turnover of EUR54 million, shipping more than 20 million packages. It operates 46,000sq metres of warehousing. Modest in size, compared with market leader Amazon, Rakuten’s nine-month 2012 net sales totalled over USD4.7 billion, up 14.5% on the same period last year. The company has spent more than USD1.6 billion on a string of acquisitions over the past three years, including French on-line consumer electronics trader Priceminister and on-line marketplaces Buy.com in the US and Play.com in the UK. It has also invested in e-shopping sites Ozon.ru, AHA Life and Daily Grommet. Rakuten has set itself the objective of generating 70% of sales outside of Japan by 2020, compared with 10% currently.