6 cinemas have closed down with immediate effect as Empire Cinema goes into administration.
The closures are in Catterick Garrison, Sunderland, Wigan, Swindon, Walthamstow and Bishop’s Stortford. 8 more sites are also under threat.
Today’s announcement by the administrators, BDO, means that Wigan and Sunderland are now without a mainstream cinema.
BDO said that the Covid pandemic, which caused cinemas to shut down and then operate at much lower capacities, added to the cost of living crisis had “significantly affected the companies’ business.”
“As a consequence of COVID-19, where we were mandated by Government to close down our cinema chain in its entirety for protracted periods in 2020 and 2021 and this left us with a high fixed cost base and no income,” said Justin Ribbons, Chief Executive Officer.
“Cinema attendance levels have not yet returned to pre-COVID-19 levels and the operating environment remains extremely challenging. It has been a difficult economic environment for any business to manage through without long term damage and having exhausted all other available options for the business, we firmly 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 as possible.”
The sector has also been hit by the impact of streaming. The world’s second largest chain, Cineworld, filed for bankruptcy last year, with debts of around $5bn, although it is set to emerge from this later this month, after agreeing to a debt restructuring plan.