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Bringing The Golden Touch To The Silver Screen

Silky Otter Cinemas has welcomed a new era of cinema, with the opening of the eight-screen Silky Otter Cinema at The Landing in Wigram on Saturday 31 July. And, although it feels good for the team to fling the doors of this passion project open, it’s their partnership with a local social enterprise that has given them an extra boost of that feel-good factor.

The brainchild of cinematic changemakers Neil Lambert and Ahmed Almukhtar, Silky Otter is flipping the modern cinema experience on its head, pulling together the best of the best; from the state-of-the-art technology, to the full-service kitchen with its curated menu and last, but certainly not least, the 50-seat cinemas fitted out with custom-designed recliners.

“It’s not enough for us to just offer a superior version of what is currently available. Our goal is to permanently change the game,” says Silky Otter Chief Executive Officer Neil Lambert, who has just returned to his hometown of Christchurch to bring to fruition his passion project that has been 15 years in the making.

“We really wanted to give people a reason to get out of the house, come to the movies and enjoy them the way they are meant to be seen, and we really believe we’ve done that with Silky Otter.”

Critical to comfort when it comes to the cinema experience is seating and the Silky Otter team sought out a seating provider that could provide both form and function. They came across Alloyfold, a leading local distributor of some of the most durable commercial furniture on the market.

“Being local, we were able to work closely with the Silky Otter team on product development, to deliver a bespoke cinema seating solution that fit their needs and we understood their passion for cinema, so we could go along on that journey with them,” Alloyfold Commercial Manager Chris Colenso says.

“We were excited to work with the Silky Otter team because we believe in what they’re setting out to do and that’s to bring the quality back to the cinema experience.”

Although Alloyfold has more than 20 years of experience in commercial seating, it was the organisational heart of the business that played a big part in securing the contract.

A social enterprise long before the concept became popular, Alloyfold was established to raise funds for the charitable work of the wider Pathway Charitable Group within the community.

“Everything we do across the wider group comes back to our mission to help people make a fresh start,” Founding Trustee and CEO of Pathway Trust, Murray Kennedy says.

“Across our business division, we say yes to partnering with our clients, finding them the seating solutions that meet their needs. Across our social service divisions, we say yes to giving people a second chance. It’s not easy work, but it’s critical work.”

Pathway’s work focuses primarily on prisoner reintegration and continuing to support those with barriers to employment. The not-for-profit operates a reintegration unit inside Christchurch Men’s Prison supporting those who are ready and willing to turn their lives around, with a team of social workers who provide the tools and support needed to secure employment, housing and pro-social networks.

It was important for us to choose a Kiwi owned, local company who were as passionate about the cinema experience as we are,” Ahmed says.

“We were impressed by Alloyfold's mission to help people in need. Pathway is a great organisation that helps people get a fresh start, work that is vital in the community.”

Silky Otter represents a true partnership between two organisations that are doing things differently; both focused on bringing quality to their respective industries.

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