Japanese retail giant Aeon, facing a failing domestic market owing to the country's rapidly ageing population, has said it will accelerate its expansion in China.

"At present, we run 23 GMS [general merchandise stores] and Jusco supermarkets in China. By 2010, we are planning to open 100 new GMS and SM shops," a spokeswoman for the company told just-food.

Aeon's first shopping centre in Beijing is also on course to open in September, she added.

Aeon hopes to compete with domestic retailers with its unique offering. As in Japan, all Aeon GMS in China have a basement deli floor, although the stores are three times bigger. 

Aeon claims that another advantage it will have over its rivals is the addition of car parks at its stores, which will appeal to China's growing car-owning classes. China's domestic supermarkets rarely have car parks, Aeon noted.

"We cannot compete with Chinese retailers in terms of sales," said Aeon Co.'s China adviser told local reporters. "However, we will beat them by profitability."