Wal-Mart Stores has outlined plans to open stores and distribution centres in China over the next three years – after saying last week some existing outlets in the country would close.

The world’s largest retailer said it would develop further in China’s tier-two, tier-three and tier-four cities as the country’s urbanisation continues. The new outlets would focus on Wal-Mart’s supercentres and Sam’s Club warehouse stores. It also plans to open more distribution centres in the country.

Last week, Wal-Mart said it would shut around 50 under-performing stores in Brazil and China.

“China is a key strategic market for Walmart and we are very well positioned to serve the country’s emerging middle class with great products they can trust,” Wal-Mart president and CEO Mike Duke said today (24 October). “Our management team is committed to continued growth in large and smaller cities across China, and doing it in the right way.

Greg Foran, the head of Wal-Mart’s business in China, said the country’s retail sector had “faced challenges” in 2013.

However, Foran said the retailer would be “upgrading” the products it sells in China, “especially in fresh food and grocery”.

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Foran said the stores and distribution centres to be opened equated to “110 facilities”. He also defended the retailer’s decision to shut some existing outlets.

“These closures represent up to nine percent of our total store portfolio, but only two to three percent of our total sales volume through next year. Taking this action is appropriate and enables us to continue to grow in China,” he said.