86 jobs lost as fuel firm shuts

CLOSED: Samuel Cooke and Co in Padiham
CLOSED: Samuel Cooke and Co in Padiham

ONE of Burnley’s oldest firms has gone into administration, with 86 workers losing their jobs, some of whom have not been paid for a month.

A police investigation has been launched into what happened at fuel distribution firm Samuel Cooke & Co. in Padiham, and offshoot Company Fuel Cards Ltd in Barrowford.

The firm closed on Monday with workers being made redundant at 5pm. They were left in the dark about the firm’s future. By the time redundancy notices were given out, administrators KPMG had sold the card company’s customer list.

Cooke Fuels has sold and distributed fuel and lubricants to commercial and residential customers from Wyre Street since 1976. The firm has its office at Vantage Court, Riverside Way, Barrowford, also the site of Company Fuel Cards Ltd, which sells to commercial concerns from a call centre.

In all, 98 people made up the workforce of the firms: 46 in Padiham and 52 in Barrowford. Twelve have been retained to help administrators dispose of assets.

The rest were told to turn up at work the next day to find out about signing on. Workers owed money will have to claim for it with the help of administrators, and will have to wait six weeks before they see any cash.

Administrator Paul Flint said: “The employees are entitled to claim their arrears of wages, outstanding holiday pay, redundancy pay and pay in lieu of notice from the National Insurance Fund.”

The company is owned by Frank Carroll, who took over from his father in 1994. Neither Mr Carroll nor managing director Michael Killaury were available for comment.

The original company was founded in 1845 and grew to be one of the UK’s largest independently-owned fuel distributors. In 2009 it was the main sponsor for Burnley FC for the first season in the Premier League.

Mr Flint and Brian Green from KPMG have been appointed joint administrators. Mr Flint said: “The business suffered an unexpected loss in relation to a specific group of customers that impaired asset value and, as a result, placed the business under a significant cash strain.

“The directors reported this position to the police and it remains under investigation. This unfortunately had a knock-on effect on its sister company, Company Fuel Cards Limited. Regrettably, despite the best attempts of the directors to recover from the situation, they have been unable to find a solvent solution to allow the businesses to continue to trade.”

The administrators sold the company customer list to Direct Fuels. It and Fuelplus (UK) will continue to supply fuel to customers so there will be no disruption to the service. The administrators are now looking for buyers for the remaining assets, including the tanker fleet, while they undertake a formal wind-down process.