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PVR to set up 60 screens in east

April 09, 2007 12:02 IST

PVR Cinemas, the Rs 180 crore (Rs 1.8 billion) multiplex chain, is foraying into eastern India this financial year. It is looking at setting up 50-60 screens in 7-8 locations in eastern India within the next 5 years.

Its first 8-screen-2200-seater multiplex would come up within the next 18 months on VIP road, inside the 500,000 sq ft shopping mall being built as a 50:50 joint venture between Pantaloon Retail (India) Ltd and city-based builders' consortium the Diamond Group.

The mall is being built on the defunct Eastern Paper Mills campus, which was shut down in the eighties and referred to the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction. This mall would also provide parking space for 800 cars.

"We are investing close to Rs 18 crore (Rs 180 million) in setting up the multiplex on VIP road. We have plans to invest close to Rs 100 crore (Rs 1 billion) in Kolkata alone in the next 5 years, with a typical cash breakeven time of 3 years per multiplex," informed Pramod Arora, president, PVR Limited.  It is in talks with several mall developers for locations like Rajarhat, Howrah, Siliguri, Durgapur and Orissa.

"With the mall mania catching up, we see a lot of opportunities emerging in eastern India right now, especially West Bengal. We are therefore talking to several mall developers for putting up multiplexes in these locations," Arora added.

PVR Cinemas that set up its biggest 11-screen-2000 seater multiplex in Bangalore in 2004 with an investment of Rs 24 crore (Rs 240 million), took some time to enter the eastern India.

"This is because we were waiting for the right kind of shopping malls to come up. For example, we have to keep in mind larger car parking facilities and safety while deciding on a mall for setting up multiplexes. Now that Kolkata has caught up to the mall mania and developers are investing in building large malls in Kolkata and eastern India, we are planning much of our expansion around this region," Arora said.

PVR Cinemas is expected to set ticket prices within Kolkata proper between Rs 130 - 180 while that in tier II locations at approximately Rs 50-60.

"Ticket prices completely depend on the location. If I am looking at setting up screens in central Kolkata where rentals are higher, ticket prices would be between Rs 130-180, again depending on peak hours," Arora said.

At present, PVR Cinemas has 81 screens in 21 multiplexes across Mumbai, Delhi, Indore, Aurangabad, Noida, Gurgaon, Hyderabad and Bangalore. The company also plans to put up 50 more screens in the next 6 months all over India with an estimated investment of Rs 150 crore (Rs 1.5 billion).

Around 60 screens are at present under various stages of construction and are expected to be operational in the next 12 months.

PVR plans to add another 250 screens in a couple of years and has earmarked Rs 300 crore (Rs 3 billion) for this purpose. It is also planning no-frill multiplexes in towns like Ranchi, Aurangabad, Latur and Vijayawada under a separate brand that would offer lower ticket prices catering to tier II towns.

Pradipta Mukherjee in Kolkata