Business accuses Nama of wasting €20m on rival cinema

Melcorpo says plan for cinema and shops will destroy market in Drogheda

Nama is supporting a development at Scotch Hall in Drogheda consisting of eight new cinema screens and 50,000sq ft of retail space

Nama is supporting a development at Scotch Hall in Drogheda consisting of eight new cinema screens and 50,000sq ft of retail space

Fri, Feb 7, 2014, 01:00


A business is accusing Nama of wasting public money by backing a €20 million shopping mall and cinema complex planned by developer Gerry Barrett, one of the agency’s largest clients.

Nama is supporting a development at Scotch Hall in Drogheda consisting of eight new cinema screens and 50,000sq ft of retail space that is proposed by Edward Holdings, owned by Mr Barret.

However, rival group Melcorpo has already converted unused retail space at its Drogheda Town Centre into eight cinema screens, with more than 800 seats and plans to open this in June.

Drogheda already has a four-screen theatre with 447 seats. Melcorpo said yesterday that if the Scotch Hall project goes ahead, this will add a further 1,184 cinema seats to the Co Louth town, leaving it with about twice the number the company believes it needs.

Spokesman Brian Gilligan said yesterday that Drogheda, with a population of 38,600 should, on the basis of industry norms, support about 1,200 cinema seats.

“What we have done is to correct the undersupply of cinema seats and reduce the amount of retail space by 18,000sq ft,” he said. “What is being proposed at Scotch Hall will destroy the market and mean that all cinemas, including the one operated by Nama, will make substantial financial losses.”

Eye Cinema, a business owned by Edward Holdings, will operate the screens. Its opponents claim this arragement risks exposing the State agency to any potential trading losses at the cinema business. Melcorpo said the car park needed to service the cinema and additional shops at Scotch Hall only has temporary planning permission.

Nama said it does not comment on l individual debtors but that it was prepared to support viable plans in which they are involved.

“Such plans have the benefit of not only increasing the value of the underlying assets which are securing loans held by Nama but increasing employment and economic activity in the areas involved,” it said.