Cooke aims to fuel growth in new areas

COOKE Fuels is celebrating its 165th birthday today with plans to expand its workforce and move into new areas.

One of Britain's largest independently owned fuel distributors, the company is keen to expand its Barnsley base, which currently employs 21 people.

The group, which has bases in Barnsley, Padiham in Lancashire and Ellesmere Port, delivers fuel for heating systems.

It recently helped out Barnsley Council during the snow chaos when the council's trucks could not deliver fuel to schools in the area.

Cooke sent gritters and snowploughs out to its Barnsley depot, which meant its vehicles could deliver fuel to local schools.

The group is keeping quiet about its exact plans for developing new markets until it makes an announcement in the New Year. It is planning to expand into other forms of energy transport.

Cooke reported a 14 per cent increase in turnover to 100m over the past 12 months.

Cooke's chairman and owner Frank Carroll has been with the company since 1977, following his own father, who joined Cooke Fuels in 1961.

In line with tradition, Frank's son Francis is now aiming to join the Cooke Fuels team as soon as he completes his studies at Leeds Metropolitan University next year.

"This was a family business when it was owned by the Cookes and that's the way we want it to stay now," said Mr Carroll.

"You could say it's about wanting to control your own destiny and do things your own way but even more importantly, we feel it's about maintaining an identity and developing a stronger relationship with all our clients."

The Cooke Fuels vehicle fleet ranges from 'baby' tankers, which are a smaller tanker designed for domestic runs, to 40,000-litre capacity articulated vehicles.

The company is keen to expand the business beyond the current workforce of 64.

"Our success is delivered through our people and so we will continue to invest in the development of professionals who deliver best value products and services to customers, in line with the Cooke Fuels core values of safety, service and efficiency," said Mr Carroll.

Despite the challenges of the current economic climate, Mr Carroll said he is confident the company can develop into new markets. "We aim to grow in both volume and profitability over the next five years," he said.

"We have some new market opportunities that we are investing in heavily at the moment, all within the oil industry.

"That's not to say this is an easy market for growth at the moment but we feel that, in areas that are within our control, we are very strong and we do have back stop plans against certain events happening."

The fuel distribution market is going through a tough period following the rise in the cost of oil and a more competitive market place.

Mr Carroll said that the success of the group's development plans depends on it having a strong team at every level.

"We are friendly, we are open and we like to feel we give all our employees a sense of security that they then pass on to our customers," he said.

"As a company, we are very focused and very ambitious for our future success.

"We want to maintain our sense of the past but, at the same time, we want to be seen as a forward looking, driven 21st century company.

"We are looking at new initiatives, new markets and fresh ideas – and that's where the next generation of Cooke Fuels is so important."

Cooke works in partnership with Texaco to provide independent petrol filling stations with marketing initiatives to improve profits.

It provides daily pricing, guaranteed next day delivery and access to all of Texaco's dealer support initiatives.

Founded in 1845, Cooke is a long-established, independently-owned business.

Its origins are in the lubricants industry and in particular supplying local cotton mills.

Over the years, Cooke developed a specialist lubricants business before moving into fuel distribution.

Through strong relationships with major oil companies, a successful fuel cards business grew and was subsequently sold.

The company is now focused on the sale and distribution of fuel and lubricants covering a range of sectors.

A History of Samuel

The Samuel Cooke Group has been in existence since 1845. Wholesale chemists Richard and James Thomas expanded their business to blend lubricating oils for the weaving industry.

In 1868 Samuel Cooke joined the oil business established by the Thomas brothers and in 1881 Mr Cooke bought the business and the company name changed.

In 1989 a commercial fuels business was developed in Yorkshire, leading to the creation of a purpose-built fuel and oil depot in Barnsley.

In 1994 Frank Carroll was appointed chairman on the retirement of his father.