Walmart
People walk past a Wal-Mart storeReuters

US retail giant Wal-Mart is planning to expand its presence in China, indicating the company is still attracted to the demographics of the nation, despite a recent slowdown in sales there.

The company said in a statement that it would open 115 new stores in China by 2017, expanding its presence by nearly a third. The plan would create about 30,000 new jobs in China. Shanghai, Shenzhen and Wuhan are three cities that will get new stores over the next two years.

In addition, the company looks to spend $60m (£39.3m, €55m) in renovating a number of existing stores to address consumers' concerns related to a series of food scares. Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, currently operates more than 400 stores in China.

"China is a key strategic market for Wal-Mart," CEO Doug McMillon said at a news conference in Beijing.

"Over the next three years we will increase investment across our diverse business operations in China."

The growth plans come despite the company's weak operating environment in China. In February, the company said its sales fell 0.7% in the quarter ended on 31 January, with same-store sales declining 2.3%.

In 2014, the company closed a number of stores in China and cut jobs amid stiff competition from local companies such as Sun Art Retail and China Resources Enterprise. In addition, the government's campaigns to eliminate lavishness have affected the firm significantly.

Apart from Wal-Mart, other foreign retailers including France's Carrefour and Britain's Tesco are also facing tough operating conditions in China including local rivals and regulatory hurdles.