Mexican multiplex chain Cinepolis expects to touch the 400-screen mark by 2017 and is open for inorganic growth opportunities in India to expand faster. The company touched the 84-screen mark last year and said that it’s now the fourth largest multiplex chain in the country.
“We have about 500 screens signed at various stages of development. We don’t know when all of them will become operational given the challenges in the real estate development. But, realistically speaking, we will have about 400 screens operational by 2017,” said Javier Sotomayor, Managing Director, Cinepolis India.
“We expect to open 60 screens in eight locations this year alone,” he said.
He said the company on an average will be spending nearly ₹2 crore per screen for this expansion. Cinepolis in the past has been in talks with several companies for acquisitions, including Big Cinemas.
“We are always looking at opportunities for inorganic growth and have been seriously exploring our options. But being a multinational company, we have to compete for funds when it comes to inorganic growth. For instance, we are finalising an acquisition in Brazil right now,” he said.
Despite contributing a small portion to its global business, India is an important market, which offers huge potential for the company, Sotomayor said, adding that currently nearly 20 per cent of Cinepolis’ screen count is located in international territories.
Asked if the consumer sentiment has been impacted by the current economic conditions, Sotomayer said, “India is still an under-screened market and there is a huge potential. Not only the company but the industry has seen a positive trend and we have been seeing year-on-year growth. Occupancies in cinemas are higher in India than in some of the other countries that we operate in.”
The company will be introducing its 4DX technology in India this year, a technology which enhances the movie watching experience with environmental effects such as motion and scents etc.
The company is also bullish on its high-end concept “VIP” multiplexes, which it has pioneered globally and believes both 4DX and VIP concept will be its key differentiators in the Indian market.
Last year, the company was involved in a legal tangle with its previous management team of the Indian operations. Sotomayer said, “The company has moved on and the legal issues are now over and we are focussing on scaling up business in India.”