A STOURPORT supermarket employing 97 people has warned the arrival of a rival giant could put its trading future in the town in doubt.

Tesco are currently in discussions with Wyre Forest District Council ahead of officially applying for planning permission for a 25,856 sq ft store on the former Carpets of Worth site, in Severn Road.

Ben Reid, chief executive of Midcounties Co-operative, which has a shop in Lombard Street, said the group was consulting with its 3,471 members in the area before responding to the potential threat.

He said: "We believe that if this was to be built it would have a detrimental effect on the town, significantly affect the character of the town centre and close down local shops.

"It would also jeopardise the future of the Stourport Co-op store and our tradition of trade and community support in the area."

A questionnaire sent out to members, who receive a share of the group's profits, has revealed 571 out of the 615 replies already received came out against Tesco's move.

The supermarket chain, hoping to replace its Metro store with the larger facility, revealed its plans, which include a petrol station, 324 parking spaces and a road bridge over the River Stour to provide a link with Discovery Road, in October.

Julian Walker-Palin, Tesco spokesman, said the new store, which would create about 250 jobs, would not harm, but benefit Stourport town centre traders through anticipated link-up shopping patterns.

He explained: "It seems that people have not got the full idea about the plans. They have got the impression we are talking about a huge store that would take over the town. It would only be about half the size of the one in Kidderminster.

"We are not talking about a giant store selling TVs and washing machines.

"We are hoping to keep manymore people in Stourport, which would hopefully get more people shopping in the whole town through the link-up trade it would provide."

He added letters have been sent out to residents in Mitton Street, Severn Road and Lichfield Street inviting them to a meeting on Tuesday to discuss their fears about the potential problem of increased traffic.

David Little, a town councillor for more than 20 years, who has opposed the plans because of fears it would "kill small traders", believed a hotel would be a better option for the site.

Members agreed to support a motion tabled by Mr Little at a town council meeting earlier this month to push for outline planning permission for a hotel.