A Yorkshire company whose software helps hospitality businesses to boost sales has raised £500,000 from NPIF – Mercia Equity Finance, which is managed by Mercia and is part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF).
The funding will allow Airship Services to take advantage of increased demand following the re-opening of bars and restaurants. Despite the restrictions in place during the pandemic, the Sheffield-based company has managed to increase its customer base by 400% since the start of the first lockdown. Its products are now used by around 400 brands across over 4,000 locations including YO! Sushi, Leon, Revolution Bars, Welcome Break and Roadchef.
Airship has also grown its annual recurring revenue by 200 per cent to over £1m in the year to the end of May and took on 12 additional staff, bringing the total number to 30. The latest funding, which follows an initial £500,000 investment by NPIF – Mercia Equity Finance in 2019, will also allow it to create four new jobs in the year ahead.
Airship was founded by former publican Dan Brookman and IT specialist Rob Marcer. Its first product, Airship, is customer relationship management (CRM) software while its second, Toggle, helps operators to sell gift cards and experiences.
During the pandemic, the company offered Toggle free of charge to help struggling hospitality businesses develop new sources of income, generating £5.5m of additional revenue. It also launched its own ‘track and trace app’ which was used by operators including Costa Coffee, Greggs, Wetherspoons and Pret a Manger.
Dan, the company’s CEO, said: “The past year has been one of the most difficult in living memory for hospitality operators and we have done all we can to help them survive. However, there is now a strong sense of optimism and operators are expecting a boom in business. The funding will help us to further develop the products and take advantage of the opportunities ahead.”
Will Schaffer, investment director with Mercia, said: “The pandemic has increased uptake of technology and made hospitality firms more aware of its role in driving their business forward. Dan and the team have bucked the trend over the past year and with the hospitality sector now reopened, there is lots of potential for further growth.”
Sean Hutchinson at British Business Bank said: “Seeing growth in revenues, staff numbers and landing household names for clients is excellent news for Airship Services. The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund is pleased to be supporting dynamic businesses that are identifying opportunities amidst this challenging period, and diversifying their offering accordingly.”
The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.