Turnover doubles at software company

Owen Gleadall

Merlinsoft, a company specialising in software for the visitor attraction, retail and charity sector, has seen its income more than double after it released new software which enables venues to take bookings online.

Back in March 2020, Barnsley-based Merlinsoft, like many other companies, had no option other than to furlough its entire workforce for three months.

Owen Gleadall, managing director, said: “The lockdown meant ticket sales dropped to nothing, so we had no option other than to furlough our staff.

“Once restrictions were eased, we started bringing people back in late June, as we recognised that Pick Your Own Farms were looking for software to help them meet Covid-19 restrictions in enabling people to book and pay online in order to maintain social distancing and protect their staff.”

The business further developed its Sitebuilder software, which is an online product that can be used by any firms to create their own online booking and payment platform, to allow farms to create ‘slots’ for people to book tickets with just a few clicks.  Merlinsoft takes a percentage on each booking made.

Virtually overnight, the business went from an income of around £400,000 per month in normal times to over £1m per month.

As the visitor attraction sector started to open again, the company also actively marketed its software to visitor attractions, initially for outdoor events but latterly to other activities.

Merlinsoft is now actively recruiting new staff, with support through the Sheffield City Region Growth Hub, and is looking for two more software developers and one systems support executive.

The Sheffield City Region growth hub had started working with Merlinsoft back in February to develop a new marketing strategy for the company when lockdown happened.

Darren Buxton, business growth specialist at Sheffield City Region, said: “I was worried for Merlinsoft when the lockdown hit as their business had clients solely in the retail and events sector.

“I got in touch with Owen in July to see how they were doing and it was great to hear they had been busy developing their new software to meet the changing needs of the market.

“Now we are helping Merlinsoft with the recruitment of new staff, as well as looking at ways they can market their software booking solutions to pubs and restaurants, which is potentially a huge growth area.

“We are really excited to see how things progress for them.”

Merlinsoft has other software products waiting to go to market, including one for Sports Stadia.

But with the restrictions extended for football and other sports, it is now holding this back until March.

Gleadall said: “We never predicted what a positive impact the lockdown would have on our business.

“There are only a small number of companies that do what we do across the world and our challenge is to recruit more developers to help us to meet our growth aspirations.

“We are also working hard to demonstrate our expertise to the pub and restaurant trade who also need booking systems like ours to help them meet Covid-19 restrictions.”