New Cineworld and restaurant complex: Q&A with Freshney Place director on what ‘massive’ deal means
28th March 2018
A new £20m cinema development in Grimsby town centre has been hailed as a catalyst for greater things to come by the director of Freshney Place.
Confirmed yesterday, the new complex will host a nine-screen Cineworld cinema and up to seven restaurants. Hundreds of jobs will also be generated during the building phase and when it opens in 2020.
Amanda Austin, Centre Director for Freshney Place has spoken exclusively to the Grimsby Telegraph about what she believes the new cinema development will bring to Riverhead.
Having worked for the past three years to get the development up and running, she feels that it will make the town centre a much more family friendly environment, that will increase confidence for traders currently in or thinking about coming to Grimsby. Here is what she said:
What impact will this new development have on the town centre?
"I think this will be absolutely massive, not only for Freshney Place but for the town centre as well.
"This is the catalyst for the town deal, and a kick-starter for major development not just in the Riverhead but the town centre as a whole.
"As the retail sector is moving more towards leisure, we are moving in the same direction so that we can offer more options for families and people coming into the town centre to shop and use the night time economy."
How will this development help businesses already in the town centre?
"I think what will happen is that it will bring new dimension that we don't currently have.
"We have a very small night time economy offer in the town centre, and it is not family orientated which this definitely will be, and it will bring new people and more people into the town centre.
"So on the back of that I can only see other businesses succeed and prosper."
How will Riverhead impact businesses, such as Parkway Cinema in Cleethorpes?
"We did a lot of analysis when we first proposed this cinema, and there is definitely the demand and capacity for a multiplex cinema here in Grimsby.
"We are surrounded by our community and there are a lot of people who literally live right here who will benefit.
"Cineworld is a brilliant operator and they also have a great membership scheme where you can buy into an unlimited card scheme, allowing you to watch as many movies as you want, as well as getting discounts at other businesses such as Starbucks and Pizza Hut who will benefit on the back of that.
"There are also plans to refurbish the Barge which we believe will fit perfectly with the new cinema, adding another dimension to our offer."
The town centre has been changing, what new aspect will a cinema bring to it?
"I am hoping that it will change, by bringing in the family offer it will increase the appeal to families and the hours we will operate will change as well.
"The cinema will be open until 11pm or midnight depending on the showings, so instead of shutting at 5.30pm we will operate well into the evening with our leisure offer.
"Hopefully the knock on effect will be that we retail longer as well."
In what ways do you want to focus this development on families?
"We want to create a diverse offer so that it is not all the same.
"It won't just be the same type of food, in the same price bracket, that appeals to a certain audience.
"We will hopefully offer something for everyone, so that we have a nice diverse offer."
Is there room for expansion in the future?
"To be fair I don't know where else we could go, I don't think we can go any bigger.
"We are the biggest shopping centre in Lincolnshire and I don't think in terms of size that is what is important.
"What is important is that we continue to evolve and change within our own boundaries and that will certainly happen.
"As retail is changing, we are changing. We have added more retail and family friendly facilities, building a new toilet block, which is more family friendly, as well as the free soft play we offer.
Are you confident that you will get seven national chain restaurants?
"We have the capacity to take on board seven, whether or not that is six with one being a bigger unit.
"But we will be capable of taking seven, but it could be five big ones.
"We want to have diversity so it is important that we just don't have like four.
"People during the day won't always want the same things as people who visit at night."
How will the development cope with anti-social behaviour in the town centre?
"We as a shopping centre already operate a safe environment for families and will continue to do so and extend into the Riverhead.
"We are constantly working with police and the local authority about how we can improve the safeness of Grimsby Town Centre, not just Freshney Place.
"But we work hard to ensure that this is a safe place to visit."
How significant will this be for the town?
"This will be a real change in our town's history, it will seriously change the town centre.
"Even standing on its own it is a major development costing £20 million to deliver.
"It is an offer that we don't have and will complement what we offer in the shopping centre.
"We are hoping that people will want to come down, shop, have a bite to eat and go to the cinema."
Will you look at more public transport to help bring people to the development?
"If the demand is there then we will certainly try to offer it and we will be working hard with Stagecoach every step of the way.
"Although for people driving you will be able to securely drive to our car park, go to the cinema, restaurants and shopping centre without going anywhere else."
Would you like to see more development come to the town centre?
"There will be a lot of potential, with the town deal areas that have been planned for development.
"The more offices, retail, leisure facilities and housing that come to Grimsby, and the more we offer in the town centre it can only benefit the businesses already here.
"The fact that we have got an operator as well-established as Cineworld will also bring more confidence to the town centre and can only encourage more big names to come here.
News Courtesy: www.humberbusiness.com