We have just scratched the surface: PVR

Meenakshi Verma Ambwani New Delhi | Updated on January 17, 2018 Published on July 13, 2016

AJAY BIJLI, Chairman & MD, PVR Ltd

Indian multiplex market offers huge opportunities, says CMD Ajay Bijli

India’s largest multiplex chain PVR, which recently acquired DT Cinemas and has crossed the 500-screen mark, believes there is still a huge potential to grow. BusinessLine caught up with Ajay Bijli, CMD of PVR.

What’s the next step for PVR, after becoming the leading multiplex chain with 553 screens?

We have just scratched the surface, because if you look at the biggest multiplex companies in the world, they have 5,000-6,000 screens. India still faces challenges related to infrastructure and the real estate and retail sectors are not as developed as the West or markets like China and South Korea. I think there is still a huge potential for growth in the country. The next step will be to continue to expand to new cities as well as strengthen our presence in the current cities by going to new catchment areas. In addition, we will continue focusing on innovations to enhance the cinema-going experience. We will also continue to look at introducing new formats, by either bringing international formats to India or creating our own.

What about the DT Cinemas acquisition? How much time will it take for integration and rebranding?

Integration is relatively easy since the cinemas are mostly in Delhi-NCR, with one in Chandigarh. As far as rebranding is concerned, I would like to do it thoroughly. Some of the older properties may need to be upgraded, which we hope to complete by September-October.

Will you look at more acquisitions in areas such as, say, the South? Do you see further consolidation happening in the industry?

We already have a strong presence in cities such as Bengaluru and Chennai. But if there is any inorganic growth opportunity across the country, and if it is the right fit for us and comes at the right price, we will be happy to look at it. As far as consolidation is concerned, there are some smaller regional players with 40-50 screens, which may get aligned with the bigger chains.

What are your organic growth plans?

We have about 100 screens under various stages of fit-outs; some of them will open in this financial year, while some will open in the next. We are looking to add 60-70 screens this fiscal. We will invest about ₹200-220 crore on opening new screens and refurbishing existing ones.

Will we see you expanding in tier II and III cities?

If you look at our portfolio of 47 cities, in recent times, a lot of expansion has happened in towns such as Panipat, Pathankot, Raipur and Bilaspur. Whether it’s expansion in a small city or a big one, the fundamentals remain the same. It has to be a good location at the right rental price. There should be propensity for people to watch movies and it should not have tax and regulatory constraints. Also, there has to be growth of retail development. So, I am not in a hurry to expand in tier II and III cities, unless they meet our criteria for investment.

We have seen the company introducing various sub-brands and formats. What is the reason?

We have to recognise the diversity in the country even as consumers share a common passion for movies. We need to cater to all sorts of consumers to be a strong pan-India player. Affluent consumers may not be price-sensitive but are sensitive to service; then there are others who are price-sensitive and also look for a good cinema -going experience.

So, we have been introducing various formats and sub-brands such as PVR Talkies for tier II and II cities, PVR’s Director Cut, which is at the luxury end, and PVR ECX, which is youth-oriented. We recently introduced sub-brand PVR Superplex, which will be for plexes with over 12 screens and have various formats under one roof.

How important do you think the online medium has become for ticket sales?

It is growing and now contributes nearly 40 per cent of our overall ticket sales. We recently launched a new version of our PVR app, with a lot of improvements.

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Published on July 13, 2016
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