Hospitality software firm raises £500k as it looks to good times ahead
A 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% 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, added:
“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.
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About Mercia Asset Management PLC
Mercia is a proactive, specialist asset manager focused on supporting regional SMEs to achieve their growth aspirations. Mercia provides capital across its four asset classes of balance sheet, venture, private equity and debt capital: the Group’s ‘Complete Connected Capital’. The Group initially nurtures businesses via its third-party funds under management, then over time Mercia can provide further funding to the most promising companies, by deploying direct investment follow-on capital from its own balance sheet.
The Group has a strong UK footprint through its regional offices, 19 university partnerships and extensive personal networks, providing it with access to high-quality deal flow. Mercia currently has c.£940million of assets under management and, since its IPO in December 2014, has invested c.£111million gross into its direct investment portfolio.
The Group raises its own Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) Funds and manages Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs) details about open offers can be found through Mercia’s website.
Mercia Asset Management PLC is quoted on AIM with the epic “MERC” and includes the following wholly owned subsidiaries –
- Mercia Fund Management Limited is authorised and regulated by the FCA under firm reference number 524856
- Enterprise Ventures Limited is authorised and regulated by the FCA under firm reference number 183363
- EV Business Loans Limited is authorised and regulated by the FCA under firm reference number 443560
About The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund
- The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund will invest in Microfinance, Business Loans and Equity Finance sub-funds which will offer financing ranging from £25,000 to £2m, specifically to help small and medium sized businesses secure the funding they need for growth and development.
- The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund is operated by British Business Financial Services Limited, wholly owned by British Business Bank, the UK’s national economic development bank. Established in November 2014, its mission is to make finance markets for smaller businesses work more effectively, enabling those businesses to prosper, grow and build UK economic activity.
- The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund is supported by the European Regional Development Fund, the European Investment Bank, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and British Business Finance Limited, a British Business Bank group company.
- The NPIF covers the following LEP areas: Tees Valley Combined Authority, Greater Manchester, Cheshire and Warrington, Cumbria, Liverpool City Region, Lancashire, Hull and East Yorkshire, Leeds City Region, Sheffield City Region, and York & North Yorkshire
- The project is receiving up to £140,359,192 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.
- The funds in which Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund invests are open to businesses with material operations, or planning to open material operations, in, Yorkshire and the Humber, the North West and Tees Valley.
- The British Business Bank has published the Business Finance Guide (in partnership with the ICAEW, and a further 21 business and finance organisations). The guide, which impartially sets out the range finance options available to businesses and provides links to support available at a regional level, is available at www.thebusinessfinanceguide.co.uk/bbb