Supermarket giant Tesco has announced its first foray into China with the purchase of a 50% stake in a 25-strong hypermarket chain for £140m ($260m).
China's growth potential is amongst the biggest in the world
The joint venture with the Ting Hsin chain ends a three-year search by Tesco for a foothold in the Chinese market.
Tesco currently has a presence in 12 countries, including Hungary, Poland, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan.
"China is one of the largest economies in the world with tremendous forecast growth," said Tesco's Sir Terry Leahy.
Ting Hsin is the largest food supplier in China and owns the Hymall chain of stores, of which Tesco will have a 50% stake.
Hymall opened its first outlet in September 1998 and is now one of the leading hypermarket operators in the country, with French chain Carrefour and US-owned Wal-Mart among its rivals.
The business serves around two million customers a week and is valued at £280m, with sales of £330m.
Most of its stores are located in "high quality" shopping mall developments in the east, north and northeast of China, Tesco said.
Combining their talents, Ting Hsin will offer its local knowledge and operating expertise, while Tesco will add its supply chain, product development and store operation prowess to "improve the shopping experience".
"Hymall is already a leading retailer in Shanghai, China's largest retail market and the chain of 25 hypermarkets provides an excellent base of stores from which we can grow together," said Sir Terry Leahy.
Ting Hsin chairman Wei Ying-Chiao said: "This new strategic partnership with Tesco will bring new management expertise and technology know-how to help grow the business even further."