Hundreds of jobs could be created if plans to build a supermarket on the site of a manufacturing company goes ahead.

Pickerings Lifts, based in Stockton, announced plans yesterday for a multi-million pound relocation to a new site, which would allow them to strengthen their position in the European market.

It would also enable further growth in its sister company Sapphire Technologies.

Pickerings has been based on its current site, at the junction of Norton Road and Maritime Road since 1854. However, they would like to see the site redeveloped once they have moved, and Simons Estates has submitted plans to Stockton Borough Council for a development, which would include a large foodstore.

It is hoped the development would create around 350 jobs and attract more shoppers into Stockton town centre. Donald Fothergill, managing director at Pickerings, said: "We want to maintain our links with the area, and of course, safeguard the future of our local workforce.

"We do believe there are sites within the area which would enable us to invest several million pounds in building both a Twenty First Century manufacturing facility for the company.

"The future of our existing site is an important element in our considerations."

Around 150 people are employed by Pickerings and Sapphire Technologies, and it is estimated the development of a supermarket on the existing Pickerings site could create an additional 350 full and part-time jobs.

Mark Newton, senior development surveyor with Simons Estates, said: "We believe the presence of a major high quality food store operator on a site with excellent links to the High Street and the rest of the town centre area could provide a major boost to the local economy.

"The economic multiplier created by the two redeveloped sites both in construction terms and ongoing sales activity for local suppliers will be significant.