Expanded exhibition

Ster-Kinekor stirs major multiplex aspirations

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Exhib/distrib Ster-Kinekor is mobilizing aggressive offshore expansion plans after its main shareholders, Kersaf and Primedia, backed its decision to double the number of new screens to 600 over five years at a cost of about $235 million.

The South African company said it will develop 44 sites in 10 European countries, comprising 603 screens under the brand name Ster Century.

Last week saw the official opening of Ster Century’s first multiplex cinema in Ireland, at the Liffey Valley Shopping Centre in Dublin.

Frank Kilbourn, executive chairman of Ster Century, said in a prepared statement that the company had already secured a 27% share of the Irish market against major competitors, including Virgin and United Cinemas. He said six more sites, representing 60 screens, will be opened in other parts of Europe before year’s end.

Ster Century hopes to generate revenue of more than $350 million a year by July 2002.

The construction of multiplexes will be focused mainly in eastern and central Europe.

Ten sites have been selected in Poland, two in Hungary, five in the Czech Republic and one in Slovakia. In the U.K., Ster Century will develop two sites in Ireland and six in the rest of the British Isles.

Ster Century will also establish six sites in Spain, four in Portugal and three in Italy, he said.

“We have had to move fast, as the window of opportunity in many of these territories is limited,” Kilbourn said. “Our competition has followed our lead in the development of multiscreen cinema complexes in shopping centers. We needed to move quickly to secure a strong presence to create natural barriers to entry for other companies.”

Ster-Kinekor was a pioneer in multiplexes.

He said $33 million has been allocated for the construction of 12 multiplexes in the Middle East, most of them in the United Arab Emirates.

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