SF to spend up to B1bn on new cinemas nationwide

SF to spend up to B1bn on new cinemas nationwide

Despite the country’s economic and political problems, SF Corporation Plc, the operator of the SF cinema chain, is set to spend 700 million to 1 billion baht a year to open new cinemas over the next 3-5 years across the country.

It will open 5-6 cinemas a year with a total of 40 screens, mainly upcountry, said chief executive Suwat Thongrompo.

This year, the company, previously named SF Cinema City, has already opened one cinema at Meya lifestyle complex on Nimmanhemin Road in Chiang Mai. Another 4-5 branches will be opened in the third and fourth quarters, with one at Crystal Park community mall on Ratchapruek Road in Bangkok and the others upcountry.

With these plans, the number of screens under SF Group will grow to nearly 290 at 39-40 branches nationwide.

"We will continue to expand our branches at the same speed for the next 3-5 years in at least 50-60 provinces across the country," Mr Suwat said.

SF is also conducting a feasibility study to expand its investment to neighbouring countries to cash in on the advent of the Asean Economic Community  the end of next year. It is looking at Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar, and will invest on its own or through a joint venture.

Mr Suwat said SF's business in the first quarter was not as good as expected due to the political demonstrations in downtown areas near its cinema locations. About 51 screens at MBK, CentralWorld, Terminal 21 and Central's Chaeng Watthana and Lad Phrao shopping centres were affected.

"It's another difficult year for SF after the heavy flooding in 2011. However, we are confident of surviving. We have spent 700 million to 1 billion baht to expand our business annually in the past five years and will keep that speed for another five years," Mr Suwat said.

SF's business has improved since the protests moved away from inner Bangkok, while it has more blockbusters to screen in the coming weeks. They include King Naresuan 5, Godzilla (100 million baht), Transformer 4 (350 million baht), The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (200 million baht), X-Men (100 million baht) and Captain America (170 million baht).

Sales are expected to rise 20% to 4.2 billion baht by the year-end.

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