Haulage recruitment firm driving ahead with fund’s backing

A Hull start-up which aims to revolutionise the haulage industry by finding a better way to match drivers and employers has completed a £350,000 funding round led by NPIF – Mercia Equity Finance, which is managed by Mercia and part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund.

The funding, which includes £300,000 from NPIF with the remaining £50,000 from Avail’s Chairman, Keverne Watt, will enable the company to further develop its platform and app to create more functionality for users.

Avail Technologies removes the need for traditional recruitment agencies for short-term contracts, allowing drivers to earn more and hauliers to reduce costs. Co-founder Erin Short was previously a logistics specialist with the British Army but was medically discharged after being injured.

He went on to complete a business management degree while working part-time as a HGV driver, before joining forces with fellow logistics manager Callum Clark to launch Avail in June last year. The company has already signed up over 1,000 drivers and its first haulage client, the Rotherham-based collective, The Green Group.

Erin Short, CEO, said: “The haulage industry is built on hard work from everyone involved and Avail has been designed to alleviate some of the pressure that comes with that. We are grateful for the opportunity to work with The Green Group, renowned as one of the most forward thinking and respected operations in the industry, and for this latest investment which will allow us to further our platform and challenge how the industry currently works.”

Simon Crabtree, Investment Manager with Mercia, said: “Demand for temporary HGV drivers has increased significantly in recent years but the use of traditional agencies can be time-consuming and costly for the company and effectively reduces pay for the drivers. Avail’s technology bridges the gap and aims to bring the system into the 21st century. The funding will allow it to fully develop the marketplace and will support the business through the next stage of its development.”

Mark Wilcockson, Senior Manager  at British Business Bank, said: “Historically, funding options for businesses in the North have been scarce, which has stifled growth and innovation in the region. NPIF is making real strides in reducing the regional funding gap between the North and the South, providing a variety of finance solutions that help businesses in the North realise their growth ambitions.”

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.