SUPERMARKET giant Morrisons is planning to build a new store in Wallingford, bringing up to 300 jobs to the town.
News of the Hithercroft industrial estate plan was welcomed by councillors as providing a choice in the town which currently only has a Waitrose supermarket in the town centre.
But traders’ spokesman Elaine Hornsby said last night the Morrisons store could damage town centre trade if it was located on the industrial estate.
Morrisons spokesman Laura Stubbs confirmed the chain, whose only existing Oxfordshire branch is in Banbury, was looking at a site on the Hithercroft industrial estate.
She said: “A mid-sized store is anticipated.
“There would be approximately 200 to 300 jobs, both full and part-time positions.”
The firm expects to submit a planning application later this year following public consultation over the summer.
More details of the plans are expected to emerge in the next few weeks.
News of the chain’s interest emerged when district councillor Imran Lokhon was contacted by representatives.
Mr Lokhon said: “The feedback I have had from residents so far is positive because it would be competition for Waitrose.
“I’m hoping to meet Morrisons representatives next month to find out more.”
Mr Lokhon added that Morrisons’ move to Hithercroft would not sort out the long-term future of the town’s former Waitrose store, off St Martin’s Street. That has been largely empty since Waitrose moved to the other end of Market Place seven years ago. Household store Circle 7 moved into the space in 2010 but recently moved out.
Wallingford in Business spokesman Elaine Hornsby, who runs First Edition clothes store in Market Place, said: “I think Morrisons should go into the old Waitrose store – we want to keep the town centre vibrant.
“There’s a danger that Morrisons could damage trade in the town centre if it goes on the industrial estate.”
Traders were due to discuss the Morrisons plan at a meeting last night.
The chain plans to create 7,000 jobs across the UK, as part of ongoing expansion.
In addition to its Banbury branch in Swan Close Road it is planning a store on the old market site in Black Bourton Road, Carterton.