Health food specialist Holland & Barrett has begun a store opening programme in China and aims to have 300 shops in the country within five years.

Holland & Barrett opened its first Chinese shop in Shanghai yesterday and intends to open another 10 this year as it taps into a vitamins and supplements market estimated to be worth about £1.6bn and growing.

The debut came as problems such as obesity and stress rise in China as lifestyles change, The Times reported.

Holland & Barrett’s China boss Yin Chen told the newspaper: “This is the right time – income is growing, people are more conscious of their health needs.

“We have a bay of weight-loss products for men and women and I think they’re going to do well here, especially among younger people.

“There’s also a stress bay. These are not just Western problems, they have become global problems.”