Cinépolis Gulf expands strategically

Rupkatha Bhowmick

Founded in Mexico, global cinema chain Cinépolis currently operates more than 657 cinema complexes, offering over 1,125,000 seats across 17 countries worldwide. In 2018, Cinépolis forayed into the GCC in partnership with Dubai-based retail conglomerate Al Tayer Group.

Currently, there is one Cinépolis theatre in Bahrain, four planned for Oman with one operational. One is set to launch in Meydan One in Dubai next year. In Saudi Arabia, it is a three-way partnership between Cinépolis, Al Tayer Group and Al Hokair Group.

The cinema chain has significant expansion plans in the GCC. “We will expand our footprint in Bahrain, Oman, the UAE and Saudi Arabia,” confirmed Ashish Shukla, CEO, Cinépolis Gulf. “Cinépolis launched in Bahrain followed by Oman. In both locations, the cinemas continue to grow steadily and strongly due to the product and service excellence. The next two markets for expansion are the UAE and Saudi Arabia. We are also evaluating the feasibility of expanding into some other markets within the Middle East.”

Cinépolis takes a strategic approach to selecting locations. In Bahrain, for example, Cinépolis is located at the Atrium Mall in Al Janabiyah, Sar that lies at the Bahrain-Saudi causeway. “It is a nascent catchment with no other cinemas in the northern governorate,” Shukla explained. “The theatre, in addition to the neighbourhood residents, also sees a lot of Saudi visitors over the weekends.”

Having that said, he pointed out that Cinépolis is pragmatic about every opening. “At Cinépolis, we are agnostic to locations; whichever project takes off first we are open to launching the theatres there. In the GCC, Bahrain led the pack. Our second theatre in the GCC opened at Landmark Group’s Oasis Mall in Sohar. The strategy for the UAE is quite different, where we will launch a flagship location first. The plan is to open three-to-five locations in the UAE. However, over time, a greater number of theatres are planned for Saudi Arabia, a nascent market for cinemas.”

Within the next two years, Cinépolis plans to open 150 screens; initially skewed towards Bahrain, Oman and the UAE, although towards the latter half Saudi Arabia will dominate.