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Disney to enter mainland China with its largest store

A person dressed as Mickey Mouse waves during a musical parade at Hong Kong Disneyland November 4, 2009. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

(Reuters) - Walt Disney Co said it plans to open its first China store in Shanghai, expected to be its largest ever, underscoring the need to cater to the nation's growing middle class.

The 53,000 square feet Disney Store, expected to open in early 2015, will be located in Shanghai's financial hub and will have retail space and a Disney-themed outdoor plaza area.

"China's flagship Disney Store will feature the largest and most diverse collection of Disney products by local and international designers," Stanley Cheung, executive vice president and managing director, the Walt Disney Company, Greater China said.

Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, said on Thursday it plans to open up to 110 facilities in China between 2014 and 2016, in addition to the 30 it has already opened this year.

Disney is scheduled to open its first Disney resort in mainland China by the end of 2015. It operates a theme park in Hong Kong.

The Disney Store made its debut in 1987 and now spans 340 locations around the world.

(Reporting by Varun Aggarwal in Bangalore; Editing by Supriya Kurane)