Walmart has unveiled plans to open 500 new stores in China, in a bid to more than double its footprint in the country.

The Arkansas-based retail giant said it plans to open the new stores in China over the next five to seven years, as experts have tipped the country’s grocery market to become the world’s biggest by 2023.

The supermarket chain’s sales in China grew 6.3% last quarter, compared to the same period in the previous year and higher than its 2.5% worldwide growth.

Walmart unveiled plans earlier in the year to plough more than $1bn into its China business in the face of growing competition from local and online retailers.

The retailer also said it plans to remodel more than 200 of its existing Chinese stores over the next few years – adding self-service cash registers where customers can pay using facial recognition.

Senior vice president of Walmart China, James Ku, said Walmart would leverage “multi-format strategies to bring customers freshness, value and convenience”, and the retailer would “continue to collaborate with partners and policymakers in China to accelerate” its expansion.

At its most recent financial update, Walmart reported that its international business had sales of $29.2bn, an increase of 1.3%. Excluding currency, net sales were $30.2bn, a 4.8% increase. Walmart said the inclusion of Flipkart and strength in Walmex and China were “partially offset by softness in the UK”.

Asda reported a 0.5% downturn in like-for-like sales, excluding petrol, for the period from July 1 to September 30, 2019.