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One of CoolKit’s key managers – who was a driving force after last year’s devastating blaze – is celebrating 17 years with the company – having started when the business only employed a handful of staff.

Gill Hayes has been looking after the accounts, payroll and HR for most of the time since she joined in January 2007 – just two years after chief executive Rupert Gatty launched the business in a small industrial unit in Padiham.

Rupert said: “It was after a catastrophic fire last summer when Gill shone especially. As Finance Manager and acting HR Manager she ensured that all of the workforce’s needs were catered for, keeping in regular contact with all of them to communicate news of CoolKit’s rescue plan.

“And she was instrumental in the smooth transition to the new premises in Blackburn looking after lots of paperwork that came with it.”

Since joining, Gill has seen CoolKit – which currently employs 110 valued team members – grow into the UK’s largest specialist in temperature-controlled van conversions.

The only time she has had off was when she twice took a few months maternity leave after first her daughter and then her son were born.

Gill started in a freelance role looking after the management accounts and payroll, and adopted the growing role of HR management as the size of the team grew.

She said: “In the beginning, I only worked half a day per week. The company had a small team consisting of a handful of operatives, a salesman, and the business owners Rupert and Jenny. Despite our modest beginnings, the combined efforts of Rupert, Jenny, and the rest of the team set the groundwork for our subsequent success.”

“After maternity leave in 2012 I returned for two days a week as Finance Manager. By then the staff had doubled in size and in 2013 we opened another unit on the same site in Padiham.”

It wasn’t until April 2015 that Gill became a full-time employee and later that year the business had started taking on larger orders and moved to a bigger unit in Farrington Place, Burnley.

Gill said: “By now we were employing about 45 shopfloor and 15 office staff and fairly soon we took over a second adjacent unit in Farrington Place.

“And while the Covid pandemic period was a challenging time for everyone it was the blaze last July that showed the resilience of everyone in the business.

“I am so proud to have been part of the growth at CoolKit and even more so to have been part of the company team that rose from the ashes to become bigger and better after that disastrous day last July.”

Rupert added “We wouldn’t be in the industry-leading position we are today without Gill’s efforts. She’s incredibly diligent, utterly reliable, and much-loved by all. I’m uncertain what we’d do without her – so many thanks Gill, I’m looking forward to the next seventeen years!”


HR and Finance Manager Gill Hayes started at CoolKit when there was only a handful of staff