- Tom Cowie
Sir Tom Cowie was born in 1922 in
Sunderland. He is the honorary Life President of the ArrivaGroup, formerly know as Cowie Group plc. Sir Tom's father, T.S. Cowie ran a business, T. Cowie Ltd, which repaired and sold cycles in Matamba Terrace, Sunderland but this business ceased to exist in the early years of the war when T.S. Cowie went into the trawler business.
After serving in the RAF, Tom Cowie returned to Sunderland after the war and in 1948 T Cowie Ltd, motorcycle dealers, re-opened for business. With petrol in short supply Tom's business boomed. This new business became T. Cowie Plc.
In 1964 the company went public with Tom Cowie retaining a substantial proportion of the shares. This move realised cash for much needed expansion. The business grew and moved into many new areas including the purchase of a bank in 1969 for £160,000. The Cowie Group then linked up with a major finance house Mercantile Credit in 1969, a move which strengthened the company.
In 1972 Cowie Contract Hire was formed. Within 15 years this was to become the largest contract hire company in Britain.
From 1980 to 1986, Cowie was chairman of Sunderland AFC. In 1987, a year after Cowie left the club, Sunderland were relegated into the third tier of English football for the first and only time in their history, following a playoff defeat to Gillingham.
In 1984 the Hanger Group which included the Interleasing business was acquired for £5 million and this helped to double the Cowie Group turnover to over £200 million.
In 1993 Sir Tom Cowie was sacked by Gordon HodgsonFact|date=August 2008. Today it is known as Arriva and operates nationally and internationally. .
In 1994 the business had a turnover of £934 million.
In September 2002, the
University of Sunderlandrenamed its St Peter's Campus the "Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter's", after the local businessman who was one of its primary supporters.
In 2005 Sir Tom Cowie opened a business and enterprise centre in Thornhill School, Sunderland. He sponsored the renovating and fitting of the building. It consists of two classrooms fitted with computers and a large conference room for meetings and training days.
Sir Tom Cowie is also President of Crook Town A.F.C.
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