£2.2 million investment helps Pontypool road freight solutions business tackle UK driver shortage

Deputy Fund Manager
Joanna Thomas (Development Bank of Wales) , Ieuan Rosser (FLS), Jamie Roberts (Grant Thornton) ​

A £2.2 million strategic investment in transport logistics business Freight Logistics Solutions (FLS) is helping businesses to mitigate the impact of driver shortages as the impact of an ageing workforce, Covid, Brexit, customs and changes to the IR35 tax regime combine to create a perfect storm.

The investment by the Development Bank of Wales will enable Pontypool-based FLS to further develop their unique technology as one of the UK’s leading providers of end-to-end supply chain solutions. Grant Thornton’s Cardiff corporate finance team and Capital Law’s legal team advised the shareholders with O’Brien & Partners providing tax advisory services.

Employing 40 staff, FLS is an asset light logistics business which operates primarily within the UK and EU road freight space. With an extensive subcontractor network of haulage firms across the UK and Europe, FLS optimises its customers’ logistics operations and transport spend using a suite of tracking and KPI reporting measures. The business offers a range of benefits to customers including international customs, rapid response times, cost savings, guaranteed service levels, greater logistics flexibility, increased visibility over logistics spend/efficiency and better data insight which offers increased visibility and solutions over logistics usage.

Managing Director Ieuan Rosser commented: “The combination of Covid-19, Brexit and changes to IR35 means the UK road freight industry is faced with some incredibly difficult times with the shortage of drivers only getting worse.

“Manufacturers and shippers are having to maximise their options as many hauliers are understandably unable to commit to their previous arrangements with driver availability and cost dictating demand. Indeed, many are changing their transport model to ensure that they have the best possible capacity during these times. As a supply chain management company, FLS have access to over 50,000 vehicles across UK and Europe. We also benefit from strong buying power and all-inclusive customs – it’s an increasingly attractive option for our rapidly growing client base.

“We’re passionate about being one of the UK’s leading providers of end-to-end supply chain solutions during a unique and challenging time for the sector. This backing of the Development Bank will help us continue our investment in technology and operational infrastructure to provide a further platform for growth to deliver the best possible service to our clients. With Grant Thornton’s experience and guidance we have been able to navigate an excellent deal. We want to thank Jamie and the team for their consistent support.”

The investment by the Development Bank includes a mix of equity and loan funding from the Wales Business Fund and Wales Management Succession Fund. Joanna Thomas, Senior Investment Executive at Development Bank of Wales said: “The FLS management team has a great vision for the future, and they share a commitment to being one of the UK’s leading providers of end-to-end supply chain solutions from their base in Pontypool.  Our funding will enable investment in technology that will drive further growth and we are looking forward to working alongside Ieuan and his team to deliver on their plans.”

Grant Thornton Corporate Finance Director, Jamie Roberts added: “FLS has come a long way in a short space of time, and this investment from the Development Bank will provide an excellent platform for further growth and success. We have thoroughly enjoyed supporting Ieuan and the team in this successful deal.”

The Development Bank of Wales was advised by Geldards and supported by SME Finance Partners. The Wales Business Fund is part-funded by the ERDF through the Welsh Government. It was created specifically to support businesses with fewer than 250 employees based in Wales and those willing to move to Wales with loans and equity packages from £50,000 up to £2 million. The £25 million Wales Management Succession Fund is financed by the Welsh Government and Clwyd Pension Fund. Loans and equity investments between £500,000 and £3 million are available.

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