Leading retail figures are accompanying Prime Minister David Cameron on a trip to China today in a bid to secure their growth in the burgeoning Chinese market.

43 business leaders will join Cameron on the trip. Cameron wants to strike a delicate diplomatic balance for British exporters as well as coming under pressure to signal concern over Beijing’s human rights record. The UK imported Chinese products worth £25.4bn last year, but goods worth just £7.7bn went in the opposite direction, less than the value of British exports to the Netherlands, Belgium or Spain.

Alliance Boots executive chairman Stefano Pessina, Tesco executive director Lucy Neville-Rolfe and Mothercare chief executive Ben Gordon will join Cameron.

It is also understood that Pessina has scheduled meetings in China with a view to possibly buying a retail chain as well as further growing its wholesale division in the country.