TENS of thousands of jobs are under threat due to the “catastrophic” impact caused by the closure of Cineworld, the UK’s biggest cinema chain.
Restaurants, bars, takeaways, coffee shops, bowling alleys, ice rinks and indoor play centres all face losing millions of pounds a day in a crushing new blow for our crisis-hit hospitality industry.
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The Sun on Sunday can reveal that due to the ripple effect of cinema closures, 8,000 jobs at ten-pin bowling alleys are now at risk — on top of the 1,100 at Pizza Express, 2,000 at Frankie & Benny’s and 450 at Pizza Hut already on the brink.
There are also fears for jobs at Nando’s, which has 115 restaurants within 100 metres of a cinema.
And up to 400 more employees are under threat at cinema company Odeon, another firm blighted by the delay in releasing the new James Bond film until April 2021
Yesterday Clare Bailey, one of the country’s leading retail and hospitality experts, warned: “The Cineworld closure could be the final nail in the coffin for thousands of firms.”
And Gary Brimble, general secretary of the Tenpin Bowling Proprietors Association, said his industry, worth £350million a year and employing 8,000 people, is facing oblivion.
He told The Sun on Sunday: “We are now in a catastrophic position.
“The closure of Cineworld will impact on the footfall of those bowling centres and other operators on those leisure parks. Only with Government financial support will the industry be able to survive the Covid-19 crisis.”
Cineworld announced last week it was closing all 127 of its cinemas — citing the delay of new James Bond film No Time To Die as a reason.
The chain says it has lost more than £1billion due to the pandemic and has put 5,500 jobs at risk.
But our probe today indicates Cineworld’s decision could spark a tsunami of job losses for firms relying on cinema-related footfall.
According to the British Film Institute, one in ten cinema-goers enjoys a meal before their movie.
Mexican chain Chiquito has cashed in on that — by offering film fans 33 per cent off their meal if they show a Cineworld ticket.
But the pandemic has already plunged Chiquito into administration with the loss of 1,500 jobs. Just 19 of its 80 restaurants remain, and most need the Cineworld trade to help profits.
Thousands more jobs are at risk at restaurant chains Yo! Sushi, Cafe Rouge, Bella Italia, Las Iguanas, La Tasca and Belgo, which all have discount deals for Cineworld ticket holders. This tie-in once helped the eateries attract hundreds of thousands of extra customers each month.
Equally in peril will be thousands of jobs at Frankie & Benny’s — which has already axed 3,000 workers and 125 restaurants since Covid.
It still has 111 eateries in the UK, many within walking distance of cinemas, and nearly 2,000 employees.
‘IN REAL TROUBLE’
Frankie & Benny’s owner, The Restaurant Group, had hoped to reopen two thirds of its 600-strong chain by December.
But yesterday one senior manager at the chain — which also includes Wagamama, Garfunkel’s and Coast to Coast — told The Sun on Sunday: “Many of our restaurants are on leisure parks and rely on the cinema to keep them busy.
“With no films being shown it is highly likely a lot will now stay shut, leaving even more jobs at risk.
“Cineworld’s announcement could not have come at a worse time.”
Other restaurants set to be hit by Cineworld’s closure include Pizza Hut, where 450 jobs are already at risk following the chain’s plans to axe 29 of its restaurants.
Nationwide it still employs 5,454 people across 244 restaurants. But dozens are sited near cinemas.
Pizza Express is now shedding at least 1,100 staff and closing up to 70 of its 449 UK outlets, with scores of restaurants near cinemas.
The 5,000 workers employed by the 80-strong TGI Friday chain of restaurants will also be anxiously waiting to see what the future holds.
Yesterday Matthew Hopkinson, head of real estate industry consultancy Didobi, said: “People often want to watch, eat and drink at the same time, so removing part of that from the equation is significant.
“I think if you are a restaurant next to a Cineworld and it’s closed you really are in trouble.”
CONCERN FOR ODEON
The UK’s 100 mini-golf centres — many on leisure parks — also face an anxious future. As do hundreds of outdoor ice rinks on leisure and retail parks, which had been given clearance to open in time for Christmas.
The Sun on Sunday has also learned that concern is growing about the impact Covid-19 will have on Odeon. The firm, which employs 5,400 people in more than 120 cinemas across the UK, announced last week one quarter of its cinemas will now only open on weekends.
Insiders told us all salaried staff, including general managers and deputy managers, face redundancy — which could amount to up to 400 job losses. Some shift supervisors are expected to be made redundant, too.
VUE cinemas were this week said to be “looking at all options”.
Also hit by Cineworld’s demise are their coffee concessions.
Starbucks, which employed more than 200 staff inside the movie theatre chain, has been forced to shut 30 outlets.
And the ten-pin bowling industry is furious at what it claims is unfair treatment being dished out by the Government.
On September 7 it was announced bowling alleys would also benefit from the VAT cut — from 20 per cent to five per cent — given to the hospitality trade and attractions.
But a letter passed to The Sun on Sunday now shows they have been told this was a mistake and they are not eligible for the lifeline.
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