France’s second largest exhibition chain, CGR Cinemas, is up for sale

Slowly emerging from a two-year pandemic, France’s second-largest multiplex chain behind Pathé, CGR Cinémas, was brought to market by its owners, Luc Raymond and Charles Raymond, Variety confirmed.

The family business is worth an estimated $1.1 billion, according to longtime CGR chief executive Jocelyn Bouyssy, who has been asked to find a buyer for the group.

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Founded in 1966 in La Rochelle, in the south-west of the country, CGR Cinémas today has 74 cinemas, more than 700 screens and more than 2,000 employees. The company has begun to diversify in recent years by investing in French distribution company Apollo Films, as well as in hotels and restaurants.

Under Jouyssy’s leadership, CGR Cinemas also launched a new premium format called ICE (Immersive Cinema Experience) which surpassed Imax, Dolby Cinema and 4DX in 2019. In this pre-pandemic year, CGR Cinemas achieved a turnover of ‘annual business of about 280 million euros (303 dollars). million), which fell to 240 million euros ($260 million) in 2021 with losses of nearly 45 million euros ($48 million), according to Bouyssy.

CGR Cinemas was closed for several months in 2020 and 2021, like all other cinemas, due to the pandemic, and reopened with limited seating capacity and mandatory masks in May 2021. More recently, concessions have been banned from cinemas for more than a month in early 2022 due to the omicron variant of COVID.

Although France is home to Europe’s largest nation of moviegoers in terms of ticket sales, the French box office has yet to recover from successive closures, restrictions and delayed releases; and some audiences still stay away due to health issues.

In March, BO fell to its lowest level in 20 years with 13.9 million admissions, according to the National Film Board (CNC). We were expecting a good month thanks to the long-awaited release of “The Batman”, with Robert Pattinson and Zoë Kravitz, and “Notre Dame on Fire” by Jean-Jacques Annaud, widely distributed by Pathé.

“CGR has always been a successful group and we were able to weather the storm during the health crisis thanks to the bailouts and subsidies put in place by the government, but after two years of crisis, our losses have reached around 45 million. euros,” says Boussy.

The executive added that he was able to keep the business afloat in part thanks to the success of the premium ICE format, which he sold to foreign investors in Spain and the Middle East, among other regions.

CGR owns 90% of the cinemas it operates but inherited a number of rentals from its acquisition of the Cap Ciné circuit in 2017. Bouyssy said the company had to stand up to the owners when they were asked to pay rent for the months when these cinemas are closed. due to COVID-19.

The group is now surrounded by investment funds and cinema brands, mainly French, Bouyssy said. The company is open to pan-European buyers, although French suitors are preferred.

Pathé, which manages the first chain of exhibitions in France, is not one of the interested parties, Variety confirmed.

“We are going through a difficult period, but I still have great confidence in the exhibition sector. Young people go to the cinema to see event films or family films. As for the others, they will come back because we all need to connect and share experiences,” Bouyssy said.

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