Reel Cinemas, the community cinema operator, is to open a five-screen cinema at The Ridings shopping centre in Wakefield after signing a deal with the centre's owner NewRiver.
The new cinema is scheduled to open in May 2019, occupying a space created by the conversion of three former retail units, with minimal structural alterations. The site has been let on a 15-year lease.
Reel Cinemas was established in 2001 and is now one of the largest independent cinema operators in the UK, with 13 venues across the country. It has plans to develop at least 10 more over the next five years. Its cinemas are in community locations and showcase the latest releases, with its competitive prices being a key differentiator in the market.
The Ridings shopping centre was acquired by NewRiver in 2016. Since the acquisition, NewRiver has undertaken a programme of active asset management works at the site, including rebranding the centre and upgrading signage, way-finding and facilities such as the customer toilets and an award-winning baby change area.
Most recently, NewRiver brought its pub expertise to The Ridings with the opening of the Keg & Kitchen, a food-led community pub located in the centre’s 240-cover food court, operated by Hawthorn Leisure, which the company acquired in May 2018.
Reel Cinemas is expected to be a major driver of footfall for The Ridings and the wider city centre, particularly in the late afternoon and evening, and will also provide a multi-functional space for community events. Its opening will mark another step in the transformation of the upper mall of this three-level centre into an affordable family leisure destination.
Director Paul Wright said: “We are delighted to be welcoming Reel Cinemas to The Ridings and to the NewRiver portfolio through this ambitious and innovative re-purposing of former retail space.
"We have worked closely with Reel to ensure this is an exciting Wakefield community attraction offering affordable prices with some interesting surprises. As Reel Cinemas continues its rapid expansion, we will continue to work with them to explore similar opportunities across our portfolio.”
Chris Morgan-Giles, property director at Reel Cinemas, added: “Reel Cinemas is excited to soon be opening at The Ridings, providing a brand new space for the local community to watch the latest releases and more, at competitive prices.
"NewRiver has been a dependable and engaged partner throughout this process and shares our vision for delivering places for people to relax and be entertained in the very heart of their community.”
Cllr Peter Box, leader of Wakefield Council, said: “We are pleased to be welcoming Reel Cinemas to The Ridings shopping centre. It will be an exciting and attractive addition to Wakefield’s leisure offer, increasing footfall and providing a real boost to the city centre.”