John Lewis is being forced to scale back its ambition to open at least half a dozen new department stores in the UK over the next few years as property developers shelve plans to build regional shopping centres.

The chain, which had eight sites in the pipeline before the credit crunch, said yesterday that some of those developments were being postponed as developers responded to a downturn in spending and tighter funding for new projects.

Hammerson and Westfield are among the developers delaying some of their largest retail-led schemes in what will be a blow to regeneration plans for cities such as Leeds, Sheffield, Bradford and Guildford.

John Lewis said it did not know when developments in Oxford, Leeds, Preston, Sheffield, Dublin, Sprucefield, Northern Ireland, Crawley and Portsmouth would go ahead.

Financial Times