Fleet News

Derek Cook killed in car accident

Derek Cook, founder of the DC Cook dealer group, has been killed in a car accident while holidaying in France.

The accident happened in Monaco, where it is believed he travelled with his wife Winnie to celebrate her 60th birthday.

Details of the crash which happened at the weekend are still unclear but it is understood Mrs Cook was injured and taken to hospital.

The couple, from Wath, Rotherham, had been married for 39 years and have four children.

French police are investigating the circumstances of the crash.

Cook, a former miner, built up his business empire from scratch after becoming interested in cars at the age of 19.

Throughout his career he pioneered several new ventures including securing the franchise to sell Japanese-made Datsun cars.

He was the first dealer in Britain to advertise widely on TV, among the first to offer finance plans and warranty deals, and he launched the Britain's first internet car dealership.

At 19 he started buying and renovating second-hand cars, and set up a small shop in Barnsley Road, Wath, selling spare parts. More shops followed in Barnsley and Thurnscoe, then a garage, forecourt and 12 exhaust centres. By 1971 he was successfully selling used cars.

When he floated the DC Cook car dealership on the stock market in 1987 he became a millionaire. But his empire crumbled after a rapid expansion of franchises from 27 to 44 in 1998 resulted in losses exceeding £27 million.

Cook's interest in business continued and he became heavily involved in internet car sales. In November he agreed to sell 53% of his internet car business, Motor Solutions, for 'several million pounds' to Virgin Cars.

Cook said at the time: "Virgin is so delighted with how we increased sales they wanted a bigger shareholding in our family business, and paid several million pounds for it. It’s a good deal for us, because the Cook family retains full management control."

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