Asda admitted this week that it had fallen well short of its target for opening new Asda Living stores because of difficulties securing sites.

The retailer revealed it had planned to launch ten of the non-food stores this year but had so far only managed to open two.

The other eight stores were in the pipeline but would not now be built until next year, with Belfast the only confirmed site.

"The delay came from securing sites from landlords," a spokesman said. "It's not a big issue. They would always have been in Q4, but will now slip into next year."

In total, Asda has opened 22 new stores this year across all formats. This week, Asda's parent Wal-Mart published its Q3 results, which showed like-for-like sales at Asda grew in the low single digits.

Total sales rises at Asda were in the high single digits, with an additional one million customers shopping at Asda compared with the same period last year.

Figures filed at Companies House last week show Asda's pre-tax profit fell from £629m to £571m, on sales up from £14.3bn to £14.8bn in the year to 31 December 2005.

The spokesman also said the relaunch of the Extra Special range last month had created sales uplifts of 400% in some categories, with products featured in TV ads doing particularly well. "We have also been looking at more organic food, which has gone from 300 products earlier in the year to 900 now."