Tesco has backed its loss-making US chain Fresh & Easy by opening 12 stores across California.

Eight of the stores, including the grocer’s first San Francisco outlet, will open over the next few weeks according to The Guardian.

Fresh & Easy, run by Tim Mason, is predicted to break even in 2012/13, but the number of stores lags behind the target set when it entered the region in 2007.

In its last update for the 13 weeks to November 27 like-for-likes were up 9.8%.

At last year’s annual results meeting former Tesco chief executive Sir Terry Leahy, who stood down on Wednesday, judged the venture to be a success but that it had had a tough start.