ThinCats, the leading alternative lender to mid-sized SMEs, has provided £2.5m in growth capital to arcade bar operator NQ64, supporting the business’ plans for further expansion across the UK.

Founded in 2019 by Andy Haygarth and Matt Robson, the business has grown from its original site in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, to 9 retro gaming bars in major locations across the UK. The unique concept combines arcade games and classic consoles, with an impressive drinks list of specially selected craft beers, themed cocktails and sodas making it a haven for both gaming buffs and those looking for an experience-led night out.

Backed by specialist lifestyle and entertainment investor Imbiba, NQ64 has opened six new bars in the last 18 months and following additional funding from ThinCats, management is targeting new locations in Leeds, Birmingham, Bristol, Bath, Nottingham, Reading, Belfast, Sheffield, Aberdeen, Brighton as well as further London sites following their successful opening in Soho earlier this year. They are on the hunt for new venues of between 4,000 and 10,000 sq ft. They can trade in ground, basement or first floor locations and are known to pay an appropriate premium for late licensed sites in prime locations.

NQ64 was advised by Montane Finance and FDD was conducted by Pierce & Co. Legal support was provided by Browne Jacobson and Hill Dickinson on the transaction.

We have a great team that has enabled us to open the first 9 NQ64s, in a relatively short time. We are really excited about the next phase of growth. With the backing of Imbiba and our new partnership with ThinCats, we are looking forward to bringing our neon splattered drinking dens to a host of new guests. We generally now invest between £500,000 and £1m into the build of a new site.

Co-founder Andy Haygarth

Clint Ghent, Operations Director at NQ64 adds: “Following the positive customer feedback after our most recent openings in London and Glasgow, we’re excited to be expanding across the country, bringing the NQ64 experience to new cities throughout the year.”

Andrew Stones, Partner at Imbiba: “Andy and Matt have built a really interesting and unique concept, and we are seeing plenty of great opportunities to expand their footprint throughout the UK. It's great to be supporting such an awesome young business on this journey.”

Mike Dinnell, Director Business Development, ThinCats: “It is fantastic to be involved with a business like NQ64 who clearly have a strategy to grow their brand across the UK. NQ64 is a bar where classic console games and great cocktails find perfect harmony across a range of age groups. The quality of the management team in place really underpins the growth plan we are supporting.”