Quake hits cin­ema com­pany hard

The Dominion Post - - Commercial Property - 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: CAMERON BUR­NELL/FAIR­FAX NZ

Courte­nay Cen­tral was boarded up for more than four months.

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