Astoria Cinema in Ayr to fall into employee ownership in surprise company shake-up

Geoff Greaves, the founder, is pictured during the re-opening of the cinema in March
-Credit: (Image: Alasdair MacLeod/Ayrshire Post)

The owners of the Astoria Cinema in Ayr have announced plans to hand over control of the entire operation to their employees, Ayrshire Live can reveal.

Merlin Cinemas, who own the venue on Burns Statue Square, has announced plans to convert ownership of their entire set-up to an Employee Ownership Trust.

A post on their social media page said: “Big news for us! Merlin Cinemas is set to soon become an Employee Ownership Trust. Ownership of the company is being transferred from the existing Managing Director, Geoff Greaves, to an Employee Trust, which will own the company going forward.

“The trust will protect the interests of the 320 people who work in the company’s cinemas and restaurants, located from Penzance, at the tip of Cornwall, to Thurso, at the very top of Scotland.”

Ayrshire Live revealed back in August last year how Ayr’s cinema had been saved after being purchased by the UK cinema chain.

The cinema doors slammed shut in June by the previous owners Odeon, sparking outrage amongst cinema goers- with decades of film brought to an end.

But Cornwall-based chain Merlin later confirmed they had been successful with a bid to take on the historic site and set about working on a ‘refresh and re-brand.’

The former Odeon Cinema, before it was taken over last year by Merlin
The former Odeon Cinema, before it was taken over last year by Merlin -Credit:Reach plc

At the time Merlin chief Mr Greaves told cinemagoers they would be able to return to the screens in the ‘very near future’. And in late March, film fans finally returned to the venue - almost 10 months after its initial closure.

Speaking of the imminent change in ownership, Mr Greaves, the founder, said: “This is a fantastic and exciting route to protect the company and our ethos, and to reward all those people who together have been part of the success in bringing the “Magic of the Movies” to so many people around the UK.

“I have always believed that the best place to see a film is at the cinema, it’s memorable and sociable, and without their own cinema locally people just don’t go very often, which is why I believe so much in cinema being local and engaged in the community.”

Merlin Cinemas owns around 19 cinemas around the UK and a live venue in Redruth, Cornwall.

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