An HGV recruitment platform that aims to revolutionise the logistics industry has raised over £320,000 to further develop its system and expand the business.
Avail Technologies has secured the funding from existing backer NPIF – Mercia Equity Finance, which is managed by Mercia and is part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF), alongside private investors.
Avail’s platform and driver app bring hauliers together with drivers looking for short-term contracts, removing the need for traditional recruitment agencies, saving costs and allowing drivers to earn more. The service also helps drivers comply with IR35 legislation.
The number of registered users on the platform has leapt by 70 per cent to around 17,000 since October, when the Department of Transport urged inactive HGV drivers to return to the industry to ease driver shortages. Avail is one of only five official recruitment providers to the industry body Logistics UK.
Founded in 2018, Avail currently employs five people at its headquarters in Stockton-on-Tees. The latest funding follows the recent appointment of Matt Eeles as General Manager. Matt has over 15 years’ experience in the recruitment industry, and most recently was Managing Director of Darlington-based Imperial Drivers.
Matt Eeles said: “The recent driver shortage has highlighted the critical role that HGV drivers play in keeping supermarket shelves stocked and the wheels of the industry turning. While conditions are improving and wages have risen, this makes it all the more important that operators cut out unnecessary expenses. Avail enables them to hire drivers at lower cost so more money can into drivers’ pockets.
“The latest funding will enable us to introduce a range of new features to the platform and help us to achieve our goal to become the leading platform of its type in the industry.”
Connie Smith of Mercia added: “Avail is addressing some of the key challenges facing the logistics industry – tackling driver shortages by enabling hauliers to recruit staff remotely, stripping out costs to improve wages and helping drivers deal with the new IR35 regulations. This latest investment will make it even easier for employers and drivers to engage with each other on the platform, and will enable the company to go from strength to strength.”
Sean Hutchinson at British Business Bank, said: “First backed by the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund in 2018, Avail is an excellent example of how access to finance can help a business grow at pace in a key moment of opportunity. When shortages of HGV drivers came to a head, Avail was there to provide a solution that saved haulage firms time and money, which in turn created jobs and supported the wider UK economy.”
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.