Virgin plans three new multiplexes


VIRGIN is considering opening up three new multiplex cinemas in the Republic, according to the head of the company's retail and cinema division, writes Paul O'Kane.

Cork, Galway and south Dublin are the most likely contenders for the new multiplexes, according to Mr Simon Burke, whose promotion to chief executive of Virgin Retail Group was announced last week. Mr Burke, who is from Rathfarnham in Dublin, now controls a £1 billion business with 10,000 staff worldwide.

"Obviously we are looking at opportunities. Ireland is a good market for cinema, and we'd like to do more there," Mr Burke said. Virgin, which paid £200 million sterling for the MGM chain of cinemas 18 months ago, already operates multiplexes in Dublin and Belfast.

"Irish people go to the cinema twice as often as people in the UK despite the fact that there is still a shortage of good multiplexes... so obviously there are more prospects for us."

He said that Cork and Galway were possible locations for new multiplexes, while there were "still areas in the south of Dublin where there are no good multiplexes".

The cinema division currently has a combined turnover of £60 million, and the nine screen complex on Parnell Street in Dublin has been its highest grossing outlet over the past six months. Page 24