Shock as Wigan's main cinema closes with immediate effect and staff given their notice

Wigan’s flagship Empire cinema has closed with immediate effect after the owners collapsed into administration.
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Staff arrived for work at the Robin Park site this morning (Friday) to be given the devastating news the cinema was shutting its doors permanently and they were being made redundant.

A sign has been posted at the front of the building to say the cinema has now closed and administrators have been appointed.

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The father of one of the staff members affected told Wigan Today: “They were all called in for a meeting with one of the senior managers this morning and were told they were being made redundant, while my son was told not to turn up for his shift this afternoon.

Exterior of Empire Cinemas, WiganExterior of Empire Cinemas, Wigan
Exterior of Empire Cinemas, Wigan
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"He’s been there for 15 years so understandably he’s upset. Everyone’s in shock.”

Another wrote to Wigan Today, saying: “I am a former employee of Empire Cinemas.

"I would just like to have my say. As an employee of this firm for two years now, it’s an absolute shame this place has shut down.

A notice of appointment of administrators on the door of Wigan's Empire cinema.A notice of appointment of administrators on the door of Wigan's Empire cinema.
A notice of appointment of administrators on the door of Wigan's Empire cinema.
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"The place wasn’t having much business after covid but for the people who loved to come it’s devastating.

"I was called at 2.15pm on Thursday to be told there was a meeting being held at 9.30 in the morning.

"My colleagues and I turned up to find the locks being changed on the doors, so we knew it wasn’t good.

"To be left with no pay for this month but for the company to keep other sites open is absolutely horrendous!

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"Thank you to anyone that has supported us over the years! I have loved working there and the people and community is absolutely amazing.”

The notice informs customers that joint administrators had been appointed on Friday July 7 to manage the company’s business affairs and assets, and have been authorised to act as insolvency practitioners.

It adds that refunds for advance tickets bought online and those bought at the box office have been refunded automatically, and goes on to give further advice about gift cards and other matters.

A total of six Empire cinemas around the country – including Wigan’s – have been closed today, but seven other sites remain open as the administrators seek a buyer for some or all of the remaining cinemas within the group’s portfolio.

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The closure of the Wigan site means the town is left without a cinema, although a new multi-screen complex is due to be opened as part of the Galleries redevelopment in the town centre.

Empire Cinemas was founded in 2005 following the mergers of Odeon and UCI and Cineworld and UGC. It took its name from the iconic Empire Leicester Square which has been one of London’s most popular cinemas since it played host to the first moving images screened to a UK audience in 1896. It was their flagship until its sale to Cineworld in August 2016.

Up until its closure, it was the leading independently-owned cinema chain in the UK with 14 locations and 129 screens.