The Dominion Post

Quake hits cinema company hard

- CATHERINE HARRIS

Last November’s earthquake has made a significan­t dent in the New Zealand earnings of cinema operator Reading Internatio­nal.

The chain’s Wellington entertainm­ent centre, Courtenay Central, was out of action for more than four months, reopening at the end of March.

This week the United Statesbase­d company revealed that it had received a maximum insurance payout of US$25 million (NZ$36.6 million) for damage and lost business.

The company, which is demolishin­g its adjacent car-park building, declined to say when it hoped to rebuild on the site.

But the event could have a silver lining for long-held plans for a new Countdown supermarke­t and extended retail on the site.

‘‘While the earthquake has slowed the redevelopm­ent activities in progress at that location, the demolition of the parking structure has opened additional expansion opportunit­ies for our Courtenay Central entertainm­ent centre,’’ the company said in its first-quarter results.

Lost patronage and buildingre­lated costs shaved US$1.3m off Reading’s total revenue in New Zealand during the March quarter, which dropped to US$5.4m.

Its cinema revenue slid 14 per cent, or US$887,000, to US$5.37m, and its real estate business revenue dropped 70 per cent to US$325,000. Cinema operating income dropped to US$641,000, down 40 per cent, and the real estate arm made an operating loss of US$142,000, down 133 per cent.

However, Reading did much better in Australia and the US, with operating income rising 6 per cent to US$10.3m.

The company also announced plans to open a tenth cinema in New Zealand in either 2019 or 2020, although its Australian office would not reveal its location.

Reading is also reviewing its options over its 28-hectare property in Manukau near Auckland Airport.

Most of the land has recently been rezoned to light industrial and the rest was already suitable for heavy industrial use.

‘‘We see this property as a future value realisatio­n opportunit­y. This tract is adjacent to the Auckland Airport, which has recently been expanding.’’

 ?? PHOTO: MAARTEN HOLL/FAIRFAX NZ ?? The demolition of Reading’s car park began in January and was scheduled to take three months.
PHOTO: MAARTEN HOLL/FAIRFAX NZ The demolition of Reading’s car park began in January and was scheduled to take three months.
 ?? PHOTO: CAMERON BURNELL/FAIRFAX NZ ?? Courtenay Central was boarded up for more than four months.
PHOTO: CAMERON BURNELL/FAIRFAX NZ Courtenay Central was boarded up for more than four months.

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