We offer a cinematic experience, says new Everyman boss
Katie Davies THE new boss of the Everyman cinema group has spoken of the company' s takeover of the Screen franchise and defended ticket prices and a controversial popcorn policy. Kath Sloggett became chief executive of the Everyman group at the end of las
THE new boss of the Everyman cinema group has spoken of the company's takeover of the Screen franchise and defended ticket prices and a controversial popcorn policy.
Kath Sloggett became chief executive of the Everyman group at the end of last year, after founder Daniel Bloch stood down.
Though he stays on as a shareholder, he has left Ms Sloggett with the task of leading the company after the purchase of the Screen franchise including its iconic cinemas in Belsize Park (Screen on the Hill), Islington (Screen on the Green) and Baker Street.
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Despite early criticism of the takeover - fuelled because Everyman's tickets are more expensive - Ms Sloggett is heralding it as a success.
"We are certainly selling out at the moment and it is quite difficult to get into Hampstead or Belsize Park," she said.
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"The Everyman is very, very lucky that we have audiences that are so loyal. We find we resonate with customers and they want to come back and tell their friends about us.
"That is the crucial thing. The Everyman and the Screen group were similar in that way with a similar ethos. There were some customers at the Belsize Park launch who had been coming to the Screen on the Hill for 40 years and also people who were just exploring it as the Everyman for the first time."
Ms Sloggett acknowledges the ticket price for many of those long-term customers is an issue, and despite defending the �12 charge, says they are looking into rewarding locals loyal to the chain:
"We are offering a better experience and we're still offering value for people, and people tell us that.
"It may not be the cheapest cinema in the area but we are offering something a bit different.
"We are looking at offering membership scheme reductions and there will be more on that coming out over time."
Similarly the cinema isn't overly concerned about the recession, and believes it may even buoy audience figures.
"I think for tough economic times we are offering a good experience for people who may choose to spend an evening with us rather than doing something more expensive," said Ms Sloggett.
"A couple, for example, may have a meal at home and come to us for a movie and dessert."
The sweet stuff will not, however, be coming in the form of popcorn in any of the newly acquired cinemas.
The Hampstead Everyman introduced a controversial ban on popcorn last August across the group's 18 sites.
And now the bagged variety sold in the Screens will be phased out to match the flagship cinema.
Ms Sloggett has a business background, having worked for BT, Coca-Cola and Pricewaterhouse Coopers.
And her ambition is already clear with the group's announcement of a four-screen cinema development in Leeds.
But, as a former West Hampstead resident, she promises NW3 will still be her focus. "I am keen to keep the difference in all of the venues," she said. "The changes will reflect each cinema, they will all have their own programming - each will reflect its community.