Tesco plans to quadruple its sales in China to £4bn within five years.

Tesco China chief executive Ken Towle told analysts and investors the retailer planned to double the number of hypermarkets it has in China to over 200 and open 50 Lifespace malls. It expects the move will see the number of customers per week triple to 12 million.

Tesco currently has 82 hypermarkets and four 500,000 sq ft Lifespace malls across eastern China. As well as a Tesco hypermarket, the Lifespace malls include other retailers and restaurants.

Tesco said around 600,000 customers a week were visiting its existing four Lifespace malls and the average occupancy rate was 89%.

The grocer expects to invest about £2bn opening Lifespace malls over the next five years, with development partners providing a further £3bn-£4bn. It plans to open two more malls this financial year with around 90 Chinese cities on its radar with potential for a mall.

Incoming chief executive Phil Clarke told analysts that overseas returns were starting to improve and would build as the economy recovery takes hold and its assets mature. Korea, he said, is now its second biggest market outside of the UK.