The UGC cinema chain has confirmed that the brand is to be axed and its 42 sites are to be rebadged Cineworld, as first predicted by Marketing Week (December 9, 2004). It is believed that UGC commercial director Mike Thomson and head of marketing Julian Brown are to hold positions in the new organisation.
Equity house the Blackstone Group controls Cineworld’s parent company, Cine UK, and bought UGC in December.
Cine UK was set up in 1995 by chief executive Steve Wiener. Pending the rebranding of UGC’s cinemas, there are 35 Cineworld sites in the UK and the chain plans to roll out another three this year.
The Cineworld head office team, based in London’s Pimlico, will relocate to UGC’s headquarters in Chiswick. Cine UK and UGC have advertising contracts with Carlton Screen Advertising and Pearl & Dean respectively. It is thought that UGC’s contract expires at the end of this year.
Future plans for UGC’s pioneering Unlimited pass, which offers customers the opportunity to visit the cinema as many times as they wish for &£14.99 a month, have not been not finalised but it is likely that the scheme will transfer to Cineworld sites.
The cinema sector underwent a round of consolidation last year, with the Odeon and United Cinema International chains being bought by Terra Firma in August. A decision on which brand will be retained has yet to be made and is likely to be delayed while Terra Firma sells 11 sites as it is required to by the Office of Fair Trading.