Eddie Stobart Ltd.

Eddie Stobart Ltd.

company_name = Stobart Group Ltd.
company_type = Public

foundation = circa 2007
location = flagicon|UK Carlisle, Cumbria, United Kingdom
key_people = William Stobart
Andrew Tinkler
industry = Integrated Transport Logistics

The Eddie Stobart Group is a large integrated logistics company, with operations in the United Kingdom and across Europe. The group operates road, rail and ship based freight transport, and passenger rail and air operations, in the United Kingdom. The group also operates road transport in Europe, as far as Kiev in the Ukraine. In 2005, and again in 2007, "Eddie Stobart" was recognised as a UK Superbrand by Superbrands Ltd..

From beginnings as a UK road haulage company, the company has expanded into rail and air transport, as well as logistics management and warehousing. After growth of a high profile image through distinctive and individually named trucks, the group attracted an 'eddie spotting' fan base, and subsequently developed an official fan club, and a merchandising operation selling Eddie Stobart branded goods. The brand has been expanded into sponsorship, particularly the Stobart Motorsport operation.

Started by 'Steady' Eddie Stobart in the 1950s as an agricultural business in Cumbria, the company was incorporated as Eddie Stobart Ltd in the 1970s as a haulage firm, eventually passing to his son, Edward Stobart. After a series of complex takeovers, the Stobart company has developed from a haulage company to an intermodal logistics company, achieving a stock market listing without an IPO through a reverse takeover of the Westbury Property Fund. Following the step down of Edward in 2003, the Stobart family is now represented in the business through Edward's brother William Stobart.


Edward Stobart Junior was born in Cumberland in England on 21 November 1954 at his parents' house just outside Hesket Newmarket near Carlisle. He was one of four children, with an elder sister Anne, an elder brother John and a younger brother William. He was always called Edward to avoid confusion with his father Eddie. He was very interested in lorries, and when he left school, he started working for his father's contracting business delivering agricultural material in the region. By 1970, the company consisted of three main parts:
*Farm shop

The various parts were eventually split up between the family members, with Edward having haulage and the name, "Eddie Stobart Ltd".

In 1976 Edward and the fleet of eight lorries moved to Carlisle to be closer to the M6 motorway. One of Eddie's quaint habits was to name his lorry cabins with female names, continued to this day.

A lot of hard work, never declining an order, and a virtual paranoia about keeping his lorries immaculately clean eventually paid off, and Edward started to get orders from larger businesses. One of its key success factors is its specific emphasis on building a strong reputation and corporate image. For example, in the 1980s and 90s, if any driver was caught not wearing a tie while on duty, he or she could face disciplinary action. Similarly, the company has a policy that all drivers must wave back and honk their horn in the traditional truck-driver fashion when signalled by a passer-by or "Eddie spotter" to do so.

The company grew slowly at first, but by the year 2000, it had 1,000 lorries and owned 24 storage depots around the United Kingdom. Since each lorry has a life (before disposal) of three years, this means that the company was roughly purchasing a new lorry every single day.

The Stobart family are strongly Christian, and have donated much of their wealth to local churches. They built a new church on Lowmoor Road in Wigton, Cumbria.

By 2000, the enlarged Eddie Stobart Group Ltd. consisted of three divisions, Eddie Stobart Ltd., Eddie Stobart International and Eddie Stobart Promotions.

By 2002, the company was experiencing financial difficulties caused by the fuel crisis. In 2001 the haulage business had posted its first loss [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/5315366.stm BBC NEWS] Where next for 'Steady Eddie' Stobart?, 6 September 2006] , with the fan club making more money than the haulage business.

In November 2003, Edward Stobart sold the group to his brother William and his business partner Andrew Tinkler, who both owned a civil engineering company that specialises in railway maintenance, [http://www.wadevelopments.com/ WA Developments] , based in Appleby-in-Westmorland, Cumbria.

Eddie Stobart Group Ltd. became a subsidiary of W.A. Developments (International) Ltd, a parent company of WA Developments created to purchase Eddie Stobart Group Ltd.

Following further growth, the company had previously been looking to move from its Carlisle base and was considering a relocation further down the M6 motorway to Warrington. These plans were rejected due to potential job losses in Carlisle. Stobarts had also been considering expanding into the air freight business. On 7 April 2006, Haughey Airports Limited, the company which operated Carlisle Airport, was acquired by the Stobart Group parent company WA Developments International, through a subsidiary company Stobart Air Ltd. [ [http://www.carlisleairport.co.uk/news.htm Carlisle Airport] News section, retrieved 8 April 2006] .

Plans were announced to redevelop the airport site, to include a new passenger terminal, an air freight service, a new joint headquarters for WDA and Eddie Stobart, and a 750,000 square foot distribution centre.

In September 2006 Stobarts increased its rail operations, by launching a new rail freight service for Tesco, under the Stobart Rail banner [ [http://www.eddiestobart.co.uk/News/News_Article.php?id=19 Official site news section] Stobarts Launch Rail Freight Service, Septembet 2006, retrieved April 2008] .

In August 2007 the Stobart business gained a stock market listing through the reverse acquisition of Westbury Property Fund Ltd [http://www.westburypropertyfund.com] , a commercial property and ports company [http://www.eddiestobart.co.uk/News/News_Article.php?id=41 Official Site news section] Eddie Stobart joining Stock Market, 15 August 2007, retrieved April 2008] [http://www.roadtransport.com/Articles/2007/08/15/128156/eddie-stobart-merges-with-westbury-and-goes-public.html RoadTransport.com] Eddie Stobart merges with Westbury and goes public, 15 Aug 2007] .

Westbury acquired Eddie Stobart Ltd. from W.A. Developments International for £138M, which was recouped by the sale of £142M of property to W.A. Developments International. The renamed Westbury group then became the stock exchange listed Stobart Group Ltd., with Andrew Tinkler and William Stobart becoming substantial shareholders CEO and COO of Eddie Stobart Limited respectively. The Stobart Air operation, owners of Carlisle Airport, remained outside the enlarged group, still owned by WA Developments.

With the Westbury takeover, Stobarts gained the Port of Weston in Runcorn. At the same time as the Westbury merger, it was announced that the [http://www.oconnor.co.uk/ O'Connor Group] was also being purchased by Westlink, at the time a wholly owned business of Westbury [ [http://www.oconnor.co.uk/news/Announcement.html O'Connor Group official site] Takeover announcement, 15 August 2007, retrieved April 2008] . The O'Connor Group operates a truck fleet of approximately 90 vehicles, offering transmodal road rail services at the 'inland port', Widnes Intermodal Rail Depot.

In March 2007, Westbury had also acquired AHC, a rail terminal operator and storage, facilities handling and transport business, operating on a site adjacent to the O'Connor terminal. Westbury also operated a joint venture, Victa Westlink Rail, between its Westlink subsidiary and Victa Railfreight.

On 10 March 2008 the Stobart Group announced the acquisition of James Irlam & Sons (http://www.jamesirlam.co.uk/), one of the largest independently owned road transport logistics providers in the UK.

On 1st April 2008, the Stobart Group incorporating Eddie Stobart Ltd started its first dedicated operations in Ireland, Stobart Ireland, based in Dublin.

In April 2008, the group announced the purchase of the William Stobart and Andrew Tinkler owned partner company, WA Developments (http://www.wadevelopments.com/), which had been advising Stobart on the redevelopment of the inland port operation in Widnes and potential port operation in Runcorn, and an option agreement to purchase Carlisle Airport controlled by WAD International through Stobart Air [ [http://www.eddiestobart.co.uk/News/News_Article.php?id=56 Stobart Official site news section] EGM approves acquisition April 2008, retrieved April 2008] .

At the beginning of June 2008 WA Developments was renamed Stobart Rail (http://www.stobartrail.co.uk/) and became responsible for all the railway activities of the group.

In July it was announced that the group had taken over the chilled and ambient goods distribution operations from the administrators of Innovate Logistics Limited, saving the jobs of around 1300 Innovate employees. This according to the company website means that the enlarged Group will now have more than 1,800 trucks, 3,200 trailers and will employ over 5,300 people in 40 locations across the UK, Ireland and Europe.


In May 2007 the Stobart Group was the subject of controversy when it reportedly offered bonuses to its Carlisle based drivers to work in Livingston in Scotland, to transport goods for Tesco who were in dispute with its distribution centre drivers and facing disruption to their supply chain. The Stobart drivers refused to cross the Livingston picket line.

On 4 April 2008, controversy emerged surrounding the proposed developments to Carlisle Airport. In response to 63 apparently overly restrictive planning conditions placed on the development plans of Stobart Air, Andrew Tinkler apparently intended to move the Stobart haulage and warehousing operation out of Carlisle, and move them to Widnes, as a contingency 'plan B', asserting the redevelopment under the proposed condition would not be completed in time [ [http://www.newsandstar.co.uk/news/stobart_pulls_out_of_cumbria Carlisle News and Star] Stobart Pulls Out Of Cumbria, 8 April 2008] . By 8 April talks had proceeded, and centred on 10 disputed points [ [http://www.newsandstar.co.uk/news/stobart_and_council_edge_towards_city_airport_deal Carlisle News and Star] Stobart and Council Edge Towards City Airport Deal, 8 April 2008] .On 10th April it was announced that Andrew Tinkler and Carlisle City Council leader Mike Mitchelson shook hands on a revised list of conditions for the plan [ [http://www.newsandstar.co.uk/news/stobart_and_council_agree_airport_deal News & Star ] ] .


Since takeover by the WA Group, Stobarts have taken to a high profile sponsorship program, including Carlisle United F.C. and most extensively in the arena of motorsports, including:
* Stobart VK M-Sport Ford World Rally Championship team - title sponsor
* Widnes Vikings Rugby League - Main Sponsor
* Stobart Stadium Halton, formerly Halton Stadium, the home of Widnes Vikings. [cite web |url=http://www2.halton.gov.uk/content/newsroom/latestnews/504293?a=5441 |title=Stobart Group maps out road to success for Vikings |accessdate=2007-12-07 |publisher=Halton Borough Council ]

Rail transport

The Stobart Group operates some rail based services, both for freight as the Stobart Rail service, and for passengers. Rail operations are provided for the group by its rail partner Direct Rail Services (DRS).

For rail connected freight transport, the group owns warehousing at the rail connected Daventry International Railfreight Terminal (DIRFT), and owns the rail connected Widnes Intermodal Rail Depot.

The Stobart Group also briefly entered the passenger railtour market, through the Stobart Pullman, which was a rebranding of the Hertfordshire Rail Tours business inherited from Invicta Westlink Rail, with traction being provided by Direct Rail Services using Stobart branded carriages. Launched in February 2008, as of July 2008 the operation was suspended, presumed closed.

Fan Club

The tradition of naming his lorry cabins with female names, combined with a very distinctive livery, has led members of the general public to "collect" sightings of Stobart lorries. This has occurred to the extent that a fan club formed itself, eventually supported by the company who arrange depot tours and lorry rides, and sell model lorries etc. For a few years in the 1990s the company ran a fan club shop in Carlisle's city centre.

To help celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Eddie Stobart Ltd, the Somerset group The Wurzels recorded a new song "I wanna be an Eddie Stobart Driver". The song graced the UK Top 100 in 1995. The original, together with a spoof called "I wanna join the Eddie Stobart fan club", are still available for download via iTunes.


Standard Stobart trucks previously carried a yellow and red shaded effect identity, "Eddie Stobart Ltd." with the strapline "Express Road Haulage Specialist" [ [http://www.davesimages.net/users/www.davesimages.net/upload/stobart_hanna_1768..jpgImage of eddie stobart limited livery] ] [ [http://dantrucks.free.fr/3.%20Guests/Bjorn%20Klaas/BK582%20Eddie%20Stobart.jpgImage of eddie stobart limited livery, Boudica] ] , although the strapline "International Logisitics" had also been used [ [http://www.roadtransport.com/Assets/GetAsset.aspx?ItemID=13003740 Image of an International Logistics strapline] ] . This livery featured a basic contrast scheme of white, green, yellow and red, characterised by the yellow "S" chevron, red and white striped bumpers, and white detailing on red truck and trailer skirt panels.

To reflect the transfer of the company to William Stobart, and with the invention of a new wraparound shrink wrap adhesive plastic application technique, the standard livery was updated, and changed to a more blended arrangement [ [http://www.lorryspotting.com/club/images/Dave%20Baxter/px55cwe.jpgImage of the updated wraparound livery] ] , with the dropping of yellow, and the traditionalist style white detailing and shadow effect fleet name. The main identity changed to just "Eddie Stobart", with white lettering and no shading effect, with the strapline "Trans - Stors - Logistics ///" [ [http://www.gtos.co.uk/img/case/esltruck.jpgImage of updated truck livery] ] . Some trailers carry a whiter refrigeration livery [ [http://image.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Business/Pix/pictures/2007/08/15/stobartb372192.jpgImage of Stobart white refrigeration livery] ] . The striped white bumper effect is now extended around the vehicle, and is reflective as a night safety feature. Other Stobart trucks can carry complete customer liveries, most notably for Tesco, or the light blue of Knauf.

Despite news reports to the contrary [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/cumbria/7288415.stm BBC News report stating Irlam identity to be retained] ] , the Irlam and O'Connor fleets have started to receive Stobart liveried trucks, although the "Stobart" at the top front of the tractor unit is changed for "Irlam" or "O'Connor", with the relevant web address in place of the Eddie Stobart one [ [http://www.lorryspotting.com/newsArticle.asp?nID=1123959020 Image of new Stobart Irlam and O'Connor tractors in Stobart colours] ] .

The recent company additions to the group, the different in house customer liveries used, and the changeover of standard liveries, can result in odd combinations of liveries between tractor and trailer combinations [ [http://www.lorryspotting.com/newsArticle.asp?nID=1123959005 Images of Stobart trailer with Irlam tractor, and vice versa] ] [ [http://www.hankstruckpictures.com/pix/trucks/len_rogers/2004/july01/man_stobart_2.jpgImage of a Stobart tractor hauling a Knauf trailer] ] [ [http://truckandlorryphotos.fotopic.net/p28324077.html Image of a new liveried Stobart tractor, hauling an old liveried trailer] ] [ [http://truckandlorryphotos.fotopic.net/p28324081.html Image of a Stobart tractor hauling a Tesco trailer] ] .

The Stobart sponsored rally team uses a specially liveried trailer [ [http://static.panoramio.com/photos/original/6289585.jpgImage of the Stobart Rally trailer] ] .

Several second hand ex-Stobart trailers sold to other operators can be identified by the base colours of green curtainsides and white detailed red skirt panels.

Vehicle naming

Stobarts have had a long tradition of naming their vehicles with female names, starting with their trucks. The first four Eddie Stobart owned were named after singers, "Twiggy", "Tammy" (Wynette), "Dolly" (Parton), and "Suzi" (Quatro). Names are now often chosen with connections to drivers, or to commemorate long serving employees. The practice has been expanded into the other Stobart vehicles, including their sponsored sports cars, and the Stobart Rail locomotive "Eddie the Engine".

With the expansion of the fleet, names have become harder to choose, and the fleet now features such names as "Tuula Karina" (Finnish), "Angharrad" (Welsh), "Anstice" and "Saoirse Erin". Currently the vehicles with the shortest and longest names are "Nia" and "Gladys Duchess of Overton," respectively, both on Scania R420s.

There are some exceptions to the female naming convention (including Eddie the Engine). In 2005, in celebration of 20 years of [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transformers_%28fiction%29 Transformers] , Stobarts named a MAN tractor, "Optimus Prime".


External links

* [http://www.eddiestobart.co.uk/ Eddie Stobart Ltd Corporate website]
* [http://www.eddiestobart.co.uk/About_Us/Eddie_Stobart_History.php Corporate history of Eddie Stobart Ltd]
* [http://www.stobartmotorsport.com/ Stobart Motorsport]
* [http://www.clubstobart.co.uk/ Eddie Stobart fan club official website]
* [http://www.stobartrailtours.co.uk/ Stobart Pullman Rail Tours]

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