Obituary: Edward Stobart

Carlisle, UK: Edward Stobart, who died yesterday aged 56 on Wednesday, took Eddie Stobart, the Cumbria-based haulage business founded by his father, and, over 30 years, built it into the best-known and biggest independent haulage company in the United Kingdom.

Edward’s father, Eddie, founded the company as an agricultural contracting business in the 1950s. But it was the third of his four children (always called Edward to distinguish him from his father) who turned the company into a household brand after taking over the transport side in 1976 at the age of 21.

Edward Stobart initiative the distinctive and very traditional green, red and gold livery, for the company’s trucks that were kept spotlessly clean and in immaculate condition. His drivers were required to wear a shirt and tie, later a uniform, and encouraged to wave and sound their horns when a member of the public recognised the brand.

In 1986 Stobart brought in a new management team, including his younger brother William, and the firm moved to a new site with better vehicle facilities and warehouse capacity to cope with increased demand for an integrated storage and distribution service. The company continued to gain new business, and several more depots were opened. By the mid-1980s it was growing at about 25% a year. By 2000 the company had more than 800 lorries and 22 depots.

It was Eddie senior who began the tradition of giving Eddie Stobart’s lorries female names. The first three were named after the Sixties’ model Twiggy and the singers Tammy Wynette and Dolly Parton. Edward continued the tradition, with more recent vehicles being named after Ffion Hague (following a request from her husband, William Hague, now the UK’s Foreign Secretary), Paris Hilton, Trinny and Susannah and Fiona Phillips.

Edward Stobart and his first wife, Sylvia, had four adopted children. He also had two children by his second wife, Mandy.