The COVID-19 pandemic was not the only factor that contributed to the closure of MovieTowne’s Chaguanas branch.
This according to the cinema chain’s owner, Derek Chin, who was speaking on CNC3’s the Morning Brew yesterday.
Chin said the Chaguanas branch has been the weakest financially out of all three local locations long before the pandemic hit in March, forcing business closures across the country.
“We’ve seen a downward trend in the last two years, the first time in MovieTowne history between the latter part of 2018 and into 2019 and of course the pandemic just put the icing on the cake but we’ve seen a downturn for a number of different reasons: we have more competition, other people have jumped into the business, we’ve seen a lot of advancements in technology with streaming with Netflix and the little black box,” Chin said.
He said to continue to maintain the overhead costs to keep the Chaguanas location open would have jeopardised his company’s long-term viability. He said the branch’s financial woes were only compounded by issues with the landlord of Price Plaza.
But while the franchise may not return to Price Plaza, Chin has not ruled out a return to Central Trinidad in 2022.
“No I don’t think (we can return) in that particular location, something else may happen there, I can’t say right now, that is still confidential but we are looking around for an alternative situation if we feel the time is right but I need a year to get our act together and and hopefully make sure because you live in Chaguanas you don’t have to go too far.”
He said while he understood the pandemic presented circumstances that were out of the government’s control, he felt more could have been done for local businesses.
“I felt there was a need for a lot more creativity in terms of what areas you wanted to emphasise because we are seeing a situation where it was really beyond our control to some extent, but we needed to do more, I felt the government could have reached out and created a lot more incentives to allow the private sector more leeway.”
He repeated his call for the Government to allow cinemas and other businesses in the entertainment industry to reopen.
As for the employees of the ill-fated Chaguanas branch, Chin said those who have tenure will be absorbed by Movietowne’s other branches while others will be paid off for their service.