Tesco is continuing to invest in its US Fresh & Easy shops, despite it saying it had put its expansion in northern California on hold.

According to the Financial Times, Tesco opened 125 shops in southern California, Las Vegas and Phoenix over the past two years.

It said in April it was slowing the pace of store openings in existing areas and would delay its move into northern California because of the recession.

But the retailer is understood to have added almost 50 stores in communities including San Francisco, Sacramento and San Jose, and Reno, Nevada. This month it reportedly paid £2.3m for two plots in the East Bay area, and in summer it bought a third site in San Francisco.

Tesco is understood to be seeking to buy sites instead of leasing properties.

The retailer has also completed work on the structure of a distribution depot in an industrial park in Stockton that it will use to service new northern California stores.

Tesco said it was “being prudent in our expansion and our plans for northern California remain on hold”.