Asda has announced a slowdown of its plans to open standalone forecourts as it re-prioritises the business to cope with the challenges facing the big supermarket groups.

The group had previously set a target of opening 100 standalone forecourts by 2018 and in March this year it bought 15 sites from Rontec.

Project Renewal is an update its five-year strategy. This 18-month project is aimed at extending Asda’s everyday low price, value competitive position, and strengthening its competitive position against the discounters.

Key elements in the programme will be concentrating on efficiency and service in its core business, addressing the need to invest in re-modelling some of its larger stores, prioritising development spending on areas central to customer needs and putting other non-essential expansion on hold.

Asda will accelerate existing plans to invest in and refresh 95 stores while, at the same time, temporarily slowing down planned expansions in London as well as the programme to develop more standalone petrol stations.

It will re-phase existing plans to develop remote Click and Collect sites and will continue with the opening of two new “dark stores” in Dartford and Heston due to open in 2016.

Asda president and CEO, Andy Clarke, said: “We need to simplify what we do by prioritising the first line of our strategy – improving our core business – and pausing activity in other areas so that we are not spread too thinly.

“We started that journey today with our colleagues and over the coming weeks we will work on the detail in partnership with our suppliers.”