US electricals retailer Best Buy is scaling down its UK plans but remains committed to the market.

Best Buy international chief executive Robert Willett told the Financial Times that the joint venture with Carphone Warehouse in the UK was likely to lead to about 80 “big box” stores by 2013, instead of the 100 originally planned.

He denied it was a retrenchment and said the more moderate roll-out reflected the continued growth of online demand for electronics and the success of the trial of smaller format Wireless World shops.

He said: “We still look to have the same impact on the market . . . but we are going about it in a multichannel, multi-format strategy.” He said between one and five “big box” stores will open in the UK next spring.

Willett said the economic downturn was playing a part in the moderation. He said when the 100-store target was revealed last October, “we were not in the middle of a recession”.

He added that if the stores are well received, the pace of opening could be stepped up. He said: “Best Buy opens 100 [stores] a year in the US, so we know how to open 100 a year. Getting to that 100 is not a problem. It is still an ambition, but it really depends on how well the pilot goes, and how well the customers take to it.”