US warehouse club Costco has opened three new depots at Chingford, Reading and Oldham this month, taking its UK portfolio to 14. However, progress this side of the Atlantic has been painfully slow, with planning headaches restricting growth to just a trickle of openings. Although Costco continues to scour the country for opportunities, no firm agreement has been reached on any further sites, it admitted. The current target is just four new clubs by the end of next year. Mintel analyst Richard Perks said the threat Costco appeared to represent in the UK market "never really materialised" as the company continues to be thwarted by the planning regime. When Costco arrived in the UK almost a decade ago, it predicted the market could "easily support up to 50 warehouse clubs". {{NEWS }}