Greenstone Mall ends Ster-Kinekor lease amid operational woes

Greenstone Mall has terminated its lease agreement with cinema company Ster-Kinekor amid Section 189 woes.

The cinema, which has been leasing at the mall for years, will be permanently closed on April 25.

This was after the cinema was slapped with a 30-day notice, concluding its month-to-month contract.

Sunday World understands that the termination is due to operational issues. A reliable source disclosed that the mall is not happy with how the cinema is run.

However, speaking to Sunday World on Friday, Lynne Wylie, the chief of marketing at Ster-Kinekor, said the closure has nothing to do with the impending retrenchments.

Non-disclosure agreement

She confirmed that the branch would be shut down but could not divulge the details because of the non-disclosure agreement.

“The Greenstone Cinema will definitely be closed by next week, but that has nothing to do with Section 189. It’s probably retail space issues,” she said.

Wylie told Sunday World that her seniors have advised her that only Greenstone can comment on the matter.

Sunday World could not reach the mall’s general manager, Tiffany Scott, or the operational manager, Eddy Pillay, at the time of publishing.

It was reported during the week that the ailing cinema company is in the process of retrenching over 200 staff members, with a possible closure of nine branches in the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, and Gauteng.

However, according to Wylie, the Greenstone branch was not on the list of threatened branches.

She stated that the list itself was “inaccurate” because there were still a lot of other factors that needed to be addressed.

Lay-off to take place in phases

According to a document presented at the company’s Section 189 meeting recently, the retrenchments will be rolled out in two phases:

  • Nine cinemas are to be closed within the next three to six months. They include Bayside in the Western Cape, Boardwalk, Mimosa, Shelly Beach in KZN, Cedar Square, Maponya, Matlosana, Southgate, and Sterland in Gauteng. However, Sunday World understands that Boardwalk is the next cinema to shut down by the end of May.
  • Nine other cinemas are still under review for possible closure. They include Secunda, Wonderpark, Bedfordview, Cradlestone, and Mooiriver in Gauteng, N1 City in the Western Cape, and Rosebank and Rustenburg. Another branch on review is Gateway in KZN; however, the document clearly states that the cinema is not entirely affected, but only one employee faces the chop.

The divisions that will be affected include the CEO’s office, marketing, sales, human capital, information technology, business operations, content, finance, head office and regional operations, and general cinema employees.

Lower levels are to be severely affected

However, it is worth noting that the chop will primarily occur at the lower levels of the hierarchy. Upper-level offices will experience minimal losses, with just one individual being let go from the CEO’s office.

“As a result of the role changes and redundancies of certain roles, the selection criteria proposed will be, but are not limited to, redundancy, skills retention [to be determined through a skills audit], experience, and last in first out,” states the selection criteria.

The company has attributed its woes to several issues, including the Covid-19 pandemic, loadshedding, and a strike abroad, which seemingly affected sales.

“The combined impact of persistent and intense loadshedding, a poor macro-economic environment, and the impact of the Hollywood writers and actors strike has compelled Ster-Kinekor Theatres to review its cost base in order to manage the financial consequences of the decline in revenue.

“It is anticipated that the impact of the above-mentioned economic factors will take several months, if not years, to recover from the need for significant changes to the operating model to ensure short- and medium-term financial stability for the company.”

45 vacancies open

Currently, there are over 45 vacancies open at the company across the country; however, Sunday World understands that most of those positions will no longer be occupied.

“We will propose the redundancy of affected roles that could cease to exist in the business structures as part of the proposed restructure.

“There could, however, be roles available and where there are available, affected employees can apply for these positions and subject themselves to the relevant selection criteria applicable to the role in question.

“Certain vacant positions will no longer be filled. Early retirement is being offered to eligible individuals, allowing employees to apply for voluntary retrenchments,” the document reads.

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