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Christchurch To Get New Multiplex Cinema

May 10, 2002

Christchurch To Get New Multiplex Cinema And Entertainment Centre

An integrated eight-screen state of the art cinema and entertainment complex is to be built at New Zealand¡¦s biggest privately-owned shopping centre in Christchurch.

The Palms Shopping Centre and Reading (NZ) Ltd have signed an agreement for Reading to operate the cinemas in the centre that will include restaurants, bookstores, cafes and music shops.

The new multiplex theatre and entertainment complex at The Palms is due to open in May 2003. It is to be developed within the 34,000 sq m shopping centre.

In March, US-based Reading opened its first major New Zealand development, a $55 million cinema centre in Courtney Place in Wellington. It is already the second highest grossing cinema in New Zealand according to the company.

The company also has a number of local joint-venture operations with Berkeley Theatres and also operates throughout Australia.

The Palms is currently undergoing a $50 million expansion programme targeted at the fashion, youth and entertainment markets that will result in the addition of 40 new speciality shops.

A new flagship Woolworths store is already open and over 80 per cent of stage one of the development has been leased.

Reading chief executive Neil Pentecost says the company chose The Palms because of the centre¡¦s expansion programme targeted at the youth and leisure markets.

¡§This is an ideal opportunity for Reading to enter the South Island market especially with the projected growth in the north-east of Christchurch and the new complex is well placed to provide for the leisure needs of the area.

¡§With the new Wellington and Christchurch developments we are well and truly committed to bringing the best in cinema to New Zealand. Our aim is to provide theatre-goers with luxury armchair amphitheatre seating, wall-to-wall screens, superior digital sound and a first class cinema experience.¡¨

The Palms says gaining The Reading complex is a major step forward in the shopping centre¡¦s expansion plans.

¡§We are extremely pleased to welcome Reading to the South Island,¡¨ says owner, Max Percasky. ¡§The facility is an integral part of our efforts to provide a complete shopping and entertainment experience for Christchurch and Canterbury.

¡§Cinemas, restaurants, cafes and bookstores are key elements of a first class entertainment precinct.¡¨

The north-east of Christchurch is under-shopped with only 40 per cent of the retail space per head of population compared to west Christchurch, Mr Percasky says.

Primary and secondary catchment area population growth is expected to be Christchurch¡¦s greatest in the north-east in the next decade. The Palms expansion programme is expected to lift turnover to at least $150 million in the first year.

The project will involve
„h an increase in retail space from 18,000 sq m to 34,000 sq m;
„h the completed conversion of the existing Big Fresh supermarket to a signature Woolworths supermarket;
„h the Reading multiplex movie theatre complex and entertainment precinct;
„h opening of the latest concept Farmers store;
„h a 33 per cent bigger food court seating more than 450 people;
„h a 55 per cent increase to 2,000 in the number of people employed at The Palms;
„h increasing car parking to 1,400 spaces with half under cover.

¡§This expansion programme is great news for Christchurch and Canterbury and to have Reading on board adds great value to the shopping experience,¡¨ Mr Percasky says.


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