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Last Updated: Monday, 20 March 2006, 11:46 GMT
Wal-Mart to hire 150,000 Chinese
Wal-Mart store
Wal-Mart is looking to expand outside the US
Wal-Mart plans to hire an extra 150,000 staff in China over the next five years as it boosts its presence in the fast-growing retail market.

The US firm - the world's largest retailer - currently has 56 stores in China and plans to open a further 20 over the next year.

It plans to establish a university degree to help new staff acquire skills in food preparation and finance.

The world's largest retailers are all looking to expand in China.

Making inroads

Of the foreign retailers operating in China, French firm Carrefour currently leads the way with 78 stores.

However, British firm Tesco and Germany's Metro are among a number of other companies intent on making further inroads into China.

We are going to be growing in all directions
Joe Hatfield, Wal-Mart

Domestic business currently accounts for 80% of Wal-Mart's sales but the firm is looking to grow its international operations.

"We are going to be growing in all directions," Joe Hatfield, the head of Wal-Mart's Asian operations, told the Reuters news agency.

"We are really going to ramp this up."

Since it opened its first Chinese store in 1996, Wal-Mart has taken a relatively cautious approach to the market.

Regulations introduced in 2004 have made it easier for foreign retailers to open new stores, but China's size and regional diversity pose particular problems for foreign operators.

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