Kinepolis profits jump 80% in '06

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BRUSSELS -- European cinema chain Kinepolis Group on Friday announced a net profit of €14.6 million ($19.1 million) in 2006, up 80% from its €8.1 million profit in 2005.

Overall revenue for the group stood at €211.1 million ($276.7 million) -- up 12% from 2005's €192.8 million -- while EBITDA grew 27.9% to €26.5 million ($34.7 million).

The group saw 6% audience growth in 2006, to 23.9 million visitors, due mainly to cinema-friendly weather conditions and the popularity of such films as "Ice Age: The Meltdown," "The Da Vinci Code" and "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest."

The rise in customer numbers also was helped by the impact of the group's newest complexes: Kinepolis Granada (Spain, 2004), Kinepolis Nancy (France, 2005) and Kinepolis Bruges (Belgium, July 2006). But the overall percentage share of ticket sales (61%) was slightly down from 2005 (62%), while that of drinks and snacks rose (21% in 2006, against 20% in 2005).

Kinepolis Group said its move into digital installations will open the way to more alternative, non-Hollywood content, including prestige events, previews of TV series, live concerts and sports contests. During the soccer World Cup last summer, various Kinepolis cinemas in France showed the French team's matches. And last November, it introduced "XL Gaming" at its Bruges multiplex, its first step into interactive entertainment.

Last September, the two Belgian founding families of Kinepolis split. The Claeys family sold almost all its shares while the Bert family took sole control of the multiplex chain, with Joost Bert becoming the sole CEO.

Kinepolis has 22 cinema complexes in Belgium, France, Spain, Poland and Switzerland and employs more than 1,900 people.
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