In the week it reported international sales of 17.9% in its third quarter, Tesco announced its biggest store opening programme overseas, with plans for a possible 600 new stores.

Tim Mason, Tesco US chief exec, presided over the opening of the US HQ in El Segundo, California on Monday and announced Tesco negotiating for 300 sites in the States.

"Not all will get opened," he said, but added that once the distribution network was operational, the pace of development would pick up. Tesco expects to hire 2,500 employees in the first year of business.

Work has now begun on Tesco's 88-acre distribution site in Riverside, California, and the supermarket is reportedly flying its UK suppliers out for discussions. Already, salad company Natures Way Foods and poultry processor 2 Sisters Food Group are planning to establish sites adjacent to the RDC. Tesco was granted a preliminary liquor licence for a store in Las Vegas last week, despite it being close to a school.

Tesco also announced it was to embark on its biggest-ever international store opening programme in the next six months. It is to open 300 stores across the globe with a total of 4.5 million sq ft of sales. But Tesco's expansion plans were dealt a blow this week as French rival Carrefour snapped up a deal for Ahold's Polish operation from under its nose. Carrefour bought 179 Albert supermarkets, 15 Hypernova hypermarkets and four petrol stations for €375m.

However, Tesco has almost doubled its presence in Malaysia with the purchase of eight Makro C&C sites. The stores, which total more than 800,000 sq ft of sales area, will be converted to supermarkets, but a wholesale operation will continue. A similar arrangement exists in Thailand.

At home Tesco revealed 5.6% like-for-like sales growth, excluding petrol, for the third quarter to 25 November. Non-food sales growth continued in double-digit figures.