Carrefour has unveiled ambitious plans for expansion across China. The second biggest grocery retailer in the world, Carrefour already has 27 hypermarkets in China and plans to build another 13 this year, capitalising on its position as the country's leading hypermarket operator. A spokesman denied that Carrefour's recent spat with Beijing over its allegedly unregulated expansion in China had scuppered its chances of further expansion in the country. "We have not had to close any stores or restructure," he insisted, explaining that recent changes brought about by China's entry into the WTO meant foreign retailers now had to gain regulatory approval to build new stores from central government rather than local authorities. "We have big ambitions in China," he emphasised. A recent IGD report suggested that Carrefour could use its virtual arm as a launchpad to enter new markets ahead of store acquisitions. In "Carrefour ­ A Strategic Review", the IGD said the retailer had such a strong presence in Europe that a virtual operation in Germany, for example, could "potentially be served from France, Poland, the Czech Republic, Belgium and Switzerland." Acquisitions in Japan and the US were also desirable if Carrefour wished to become a truly global force. However, the Carrefour spokesman ruled out a significant acquisition in Europe or the US in the immediate future, saying Carrefour would concentrate on consolidating Promodès in France and Spain. - Carrefour is bracing itself for further strike action over pay and conditions by disgruntled staff at its Belgian subsidiary GB (The Grocer, March 17) over Easter after mediation attempts failed. {{NEWS }}