German retail giant Metro has said it plans to spend around €600m (US$688.3m) on expanding its operations in China by 40 stores during the next five years.

Chief executive Hans-Joachim Korber said he did not see other international retailers such as Carrefour and Wal-Mart as competition in China, because Metro focuses its sales toward business customers, such as restaurants and hotels, rather than individual consumers.

The retailer has already invested €300m in 18 stores in China since it opened its first outlet there in 1996.

Korber said he expects the group's Chinese operations to become profitable within three years.