The biggest region for mid-sized businesses outside of London and the South East is the North West which is home to more than 35,000 firms. It has established itself as a real hotbed for innovation and economic growth following government initiatives such as the Northern Powerhouse and major investment in infrastructure. In fact, the number of new businesses created in the North West grew by 19% last year – outpacing the 15% average across the UK overall - meaning it is rapidly becoming the center for entrepreneurialism outside the capital.
Whilst macroeconomic headwinds are presenting challenges for businesses, appetite for funding in the region remains high - second only to the London and South East in number of firms borrowing over £1m in the last 3 years - a trend we are seeing reflected in our own pipeline. Following the appointment of Dave Parr as ThinCats’ Business Development Director for the North West in 2019, we have been steadily ramping up activity in the region, providing over £50m in funding to ambitious companies in the last 2 years.
With so much potential and an expanding ThinCats team, we are aiming to build on historical lending volumes, targeting over £100m in funding in the region over the next couple of years.
A new hub for the tech sector
One area in which we are seeing an increasing number and variety of opportunities is the Technology sector. The North West is building a reputation for attracting entrepreneurs, with Manchester becoming one of the fastest-growing tech hubs in Europe.
The region is already home to six (43%) of the UK’s 14 digital unicorns including The Hut Group, The Very Group, Peak and Mojo Mortgages.
Dave Parr has extensive experience in this industry and is heading up a new initiative to expand our offering to more tech businesses, not just in the North West but up and down the country.
Read more about how we are helping tech businesses thrive.
Building a strong regional team
With such strong demand for funding, we needed to expand our capabilities and bolster our presence in the region. With Dave Parr and Head of Credit Rob Thompson already in situ, we wanted to strengthen the team in a number of key areas:
With so many growing mid-sized businesses looking for alternative funders, Mike Dinnell joined the team in January 2022 to work alongside Dave to build relationships with professionals across the local business finance community to service this increasing demand.
Mike brings a wealth of experience in the banking and finance industry, having previously worked at Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group. He joined ThinCats from Allied Irish Bank where he spent the last five years as a Senior Relationship Manager covering commercial businesses in the £1m to £30m turnover space.
Engagement with Private Equity
Unsurprisingly, an expanding tech sector and growing number of mid-sized firms has caught the attention of Private Equity. Michelle Heptinstall joined the team in March 2022 and is playing a key role in building relationships with Sponsors and advisers, to provide further support to private equity backed businesses in the region.
Michelle has worked with SMEs across the lower mid-market space for almost a decade and brings a wealth of experience in the financial services and business banking industry from her time working at Clydesdale Bank and more recently, Virgin Money.
To ensure we can handle the increased volumes of lending, Stephen Gater joined the transaction management team in May to work alongside the business development and credit teams to help shape and manage the deal process.
Stephen has over 10 years banking experience, predominantly in structured, leveraged finance roles at RBS, NatWest and most recently at CYBG where he worked in the Structured Finance team in Manchester originating and executing mid-market debt transactions.
With the team assembled and operating out of our new office in Deansgate Manchester, they are already managing an expanding pipeline of opportunities.
Key deals in the region
We recently invited business finance professionals from across the region for drinks and canapes at Three Little Words in Manchester.
Nestled in the historic Grade-II listed railway arches in the heart of the city, the unique cocktail bar provided the perfect setting to introduce our new recruits (Mike, Michelle and Stephen), discuss the state of the funding market and our plans for helping mid-sized businesses thrive in the region.
Find out more about ThinCats in the North West