Essar UK has put back the target for expansion of its retail network to 400 outlets to five years, shortly after revealing plans to open its first company owned forecourt site.

The first Essar-branded forecourt opened in November 2015 and last year it said it planned to grow its retail network to 400 sites within three years. So far it has grown to 39 sites.

In a conference call following the release of its annual results, Essar Oil UK chief executive S Thangapandia said: “From 39 outlets currently we are looking at reaching around 55-60 outlets by the end of this year and have set a target to ramp it up to 400 outlets in five years. We are still deciding on the ownership model of these outlets, how much will be given under franchise and how many will be company owned.”

He also emphasised that the $250m investment announced in the Stanlow refinery did not include investment on the retail side, adding: “We are yet to decided on the retail expansion investment.”