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Temperature-controlled van specialist has moved to 75,000 sq ft location

CoolKit, the UK’s largest specialist in temperature-controlled van conversions, has secured new premises following a blaze that devastated one of its manufacturing units in Burnley at the beginning of July.

The company has signed an agreement for a 75,000 sq ft site eight miles away in Whitebirk, Blackburn.

As a robust recovery plan was instigated immediately following the fire – which enabled production to resume at the company’s second unit within days of the disaster – founder and chief executive Rupert Gatty put out an urgent appeal for new premises.

East Lancashire’s business community rallied to CoolKit’s support, and the company has found an ideally situated site in Thornley Avenue, off Carl Fogarty Way, Blackburn, previously the home of Kenyon Transport.

CoolKit has already started to move some production to the Blackburn site, with the plan to have the entire business relocated within the next few months.

Rupert said: “We are sorry to be leaving Burnley but the opportunity to move onto such a large site, which is only 300 metres from Junction 6 of the M65, was just too good to miss.

“The layout is perfect for our future strategy.

Last year, CoolKit recorded sales orders of £20.1m – an increase of 60% on their previous year – and despite the blaze, it is still expected to report a further record period this financial year.

Rupert, who founded CoolKit in 2005, said: “We can arrange the site so that we will have from one side deliveries coming in, a stores section, the manufacturing unit, a pre-delivery inspection area and then our conversions will go straight out of the door.

All of the present workforce of 100-plus will be transferred over the next few months to the new premises.

A recruitment drive to boost the staffing by 20% was put on hold following the fire but is expected to be relaunched in the autumn to address the requirements for the bulging order book.

Rupert said: “Another benefit of the new site is that it opens up our travel-to-work catchment area for both production and administration staff. Previously we relied mainly on Burnley, Pendle and Hyndburn and now we can open that up to the towns of Blackburn, Chorley and Preston too because of our close proximity to the M65.”

CoolKit has already discussed with staff who don’t drive that they are prepared to lay on private bus travel to take them from Burnley to Blackburn.

Rupert explained: “We don’t want to lose any of our present staff. They have responded tremendously to the challenge of keeping up the production in recent weeks despite the disaster.”

Rupert said: “Only a few months ago we hadn’t a clue what was going to happen to the business. But within a few days, thanks to our MD, Daniel Miller and the rest of our executive team implementing a swift and robust recovery plan, and our admin and manufacturing teams executing it with lots of energy and drive, we are now moving into a very exciting future for CoolKit.

“We would also like to extend our thanks to estate agents, Taylor Weaver and our new landlord, Carolis for their efforts and support in finding, letting us view and securing the site so quickly.”

Recently, CoolKit won the TCS&D Refrigerated Panel Van of the Year, What Van? Converter of the Year 2023 award and the Insider Media ‘Made In The UK’ Best Automotive, Aerospace and Rail 2023 Award.