Tesco has been given approval by Indian regulators to go ahead with plans to open a chain of supermarkets in the country.

The giant grocer will become the first foreign retailer to launch a supermarket chain in India, where international store groups have been put off by complex foreign investment rules.

Regulatory approval enables Tesco to buy a 50% stake in Trent Hypermarket, which already runs 16 Star Bazaar shops in southern and western India, The Times reported.

The intention is to open three to four stores per year focused on the states of Maharashtra and Karnataka, which are among India’s wealthiest regions and home to a combined 173 million people.

Tesco has advised Trent on aspects of business such as store design since 2008.

Tesco’s initiative comes two months after Walmart abandoned plans for a joint venture in India, which it blamed on the restrictive rules governing foreign investment.

The Indian retail market is worth £300bn a year.