Carrefour is to open 300 discount stores under its Dia fascia in Beijing by 2006 through a joint venture with the city’s municipal government.

The stores will be 250 to 500 sq metres in size, with upto 1,500 different food and non-food items. Some of the products will be branded Dia and all the stores will carry the Dia name.

Earlier this month Carrefour formed a partnership with Chinese supermarket chain Shanghai Lianhua to open around 300 discount stores in Shanghai over the next two to three years also under the Dia brand.

Carrefour’s subsidiary Promodes will own 55% of the venture and Shanghai Lianhua 45%.

Meanwhile, Shanghai plans to merge the parent companies of the country’s four largest retailers - including supermarket chains Lianhua and Hualian, department store Shanghai No.1 and Shanghai Material Trading Centre - to meet growing competition from the rapid growth of foreign retail giants such as Carrefour and Wal-Mart.