UK independent theater chain Empire Cinemas has revealed it is going into administration, citing slow levels of post-COVID audience recovery and higher costs due to inflation.
The company, which operates 14 locations (12 under the Empire brand and two boutique cinemas under the Tivoli name) and 129 screens in England and Scotland, says it will sell one already closed site in Sutton Coldfield while six others will cease operations. immediately, with loss of jobs. Seven other sites will continue to operate while administrators search for a buyer.
“As a consequence of COVID-19, we found ourselves in a position where the government ordered us to close our entire cinema chain for extended periods in 2020 and 2021, leaving us with a high fixed cost base and no revenue. said the group’s chief executive, Justin Ribbons. “Cinema attendance levels have yet to return to pre-COVID-19 levels and the operating environment remains extremely challenging, with extraordinary levels of utility costs and fees, and persistently high levels of inflation leading to higher costs and a reduction in consumer discretionary spending. which has inevitably created profitability problems for the group. The decision to appoint administrators has not been taken lightly, but it will give us the best chance of protecting the viable parts of the business and securing as many jobs as possible.”
Ribbons added: “It has been a difficult economic environment for any business to navigate without long-term damage and having exhausted all other options available to the business, we strongly believe that this process can be a platform to restructure the business and preserve as many of our cinemas and the maximum number of jobs possible”.
Although recent blockbuster releases like The flash and Indiana Jones and the dial of fate have underperformed at the UK box office, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse continues to do solid business. Empire’s decision also comes just three days before the release of Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part Oneanother great title with high box office expectations.