Wal-Mart Stores has confirmed plans to expand its Sam’s Club store network in China as it looks to “speed up” the development of the format in the country.

A spokesperson for the retailer told just-food today (9 July) it will open seven Sam’s Club stores in China over the next two to three years. The US retail giant operates ten Sam’s Club stores throughout China, which target more affluent families through membership.

“Sam’s Club is one of the growth engines of Walmart China and we will speed up the development of this membership-only warehouse format.

The spokesperson added: “So far, we have signed the contracts with landlords to open seven new Sam’s Clubs in China. We are committed to offer our paid members low prices on a limited selection of high-quality nationally branded and private-label merchandise within a wide range of product categories.”

It also confirmed previous plans to open 100 Wal-Mart outlets over the same period, to include a Wal-Mart Supercenter. “China is a strategically important market for Wal-Mart,” the spokesperson said.

After a period of rapid expansion in China, the growth of Wal-Mart’s hypermarket operations in China has slowed, with the retailer closing down a number of outlets over the past six months.

In August last year, the company indicated it intends to “do more with less” in the market and would focus on increasing the profitability levels of its existing stores rather than driving the pace of new store openings.

Wal-Mart operates around 396 retail locations in the country.