Slovenian Multiplex Chains Facing Major Upheaval

By Damijan Vinter

    LJUBLJANA: Slovenia’s first cineplex chain Kolosej is strapped with financial problems that could lead to it being sold on the auction block, with Austrian company Cineplexx Cine Operations immediately announcing plans to build its own multiplex in the capital city.

    Kolosej built the first cinema multiplex in 2001 in Ljubljana and had the major share on Slovene cinema box office for years, building additional multiplexes in Maribor, Kranj and Koper.

    Local media sources trace the problems back to two years ago when the company was burdened with its first financial difficulties, which led to delayed payments to the film supplier and a reduction in the number of employees. The company which has 3.7 m USD loan stopped paying interest in November 2013. Raiffeisen Bank filed an enforcement order and requested the principal. In doing so, the bank acquired a right of first refusal on the property. A sister company Kolosej zabavni centri d.o.o., which has the same owner, is facing the same threat. Sergej Racman, the owner of the Kolesej, confirmed the information on the bank’s actions in an official statement published in the Slovenian newspaper Dnevnik. Sources inside Kolosej said management was still trying to reach an agreement.

    Cineplexx Cine Operations which already operates in six locations in Slovenia (Koper, Kranj, Novo mesto, Celje, Maribor and Murska Sobota) will partner with the Slovenian company Kranjska investicijska družba (KID) on a 1,100 seat, 6 m EUR new multiplex in Ljubljana.

    Finance director and shareholder of Cineplexx International Christof Papousek says that the exact location is not yet determined but the multiplex will have 7 or 8 cinemas and provide around 25 new jobs. Papousek said they did not plan to purchase the Kolosej multiplex. “It has never been on our wish list. We are convinced that there is enough space in Ljubljana for two cinema multiplexes and plenty of room for growing the quality of cinema," he said.

    Kolosej has the only cinema multiplex in the Slovene capitol city with 12 cinemas and a total of 3,312 seats and smaller multiplexes in Maribor, Kranj and Koper.

    New investors could find exhibition to be a challenge. Slovenia noted decline of 15% in 2013 to 2.4 mio viewers. Cineplexx entered the market in 2012 through the already existing multiplex chain, built by TUŠ, one of the largest Slovenian retailers, and has already reached more than 40% share at Slovenian cinema market last year.

    Cineplexx Cine Operations was founded in 1993 as a subsidiary to the Austrian film distribution company Constantin Film Holding. Cineplexx is present in ten countries with a total of 44 cinemas, 301 cinema halls and nearly 60,000 seats and racked up 11 million admissions in 2013.