French DIY retailer Leroy Merlin is expected to enter the Chinese market next year with a store in Beijing.

The Beijing Commerce & Trade Committee announced the arrival, along with a number of other retailers new to the city, including Obi, 7-Eleven, B&Q and Wal-Mart.

DIY retailers are keen to gain access to China, where homeowners spend a large proportion of their income decorating unfurnished, newly-built homes.

Four years ago, Leroy Merlin established a joint-venture agreement with the government-backed Homemart Decoration Company. However, Leroy Merlin pulled out of the deal before the store opened.

Privately-owned Leroy Merlin is a well-known DIY retailer in France, where it has been outperforming rival Castorama, owned by Kingfisher.

Competition in the Chinese DIY and home market is expected to hot up over the next three years following the opening of the market under an agreement with the WTO.

Ikea will open its first, full-size 30,000 sq m store in China next year and Kingfisher's B&Q, run as a joint venture with a local operator, is planning to open 58 stores in the next three years.

Home-grown Chinese DIY retailers are also increasing their presence in the market.

Homemart Decoration, B&Q's biggest competitor in China, is expected to have 14 stores open by the end of this year.

Leroy Merlin already has shops in Brazil, Spain, Italy, Belgium and Poland, as well as France.