Reel Cinema – a new affordable family cinema concept – has openend as part of The Ridings Shopping centre’s new leisure offering.
This will also see the retail destination extend its opening hours to attract new food, drink and other leisure operators to enhance the city’s offer.
In contrast to the well-publicised challenges affecting the retail sector, NewRiver, the specialist convenience and community retail and leisure investor, has worked with Reel to repurpose three retail units, totalling approximately 11,650 sq ft on Cathedral Walk, the upper mall of the centre, opposite Boots.
NewRiver’s convenience-led, community-focused approach in a challenging retail climate, already has won national acclaim for The Ridings, with innovative adaptations of available spaces in response to the changing needs and demographics of consumers.
Reel Cinema Wakefield is the only cinema in the city centre and comprises five screens with each auditorium seating between 42 and 55 customers, suitable not only for film screenings but also parties, business and community events. The cinema will be the first Reel outlet to feature a standalone sweet shop, Sweet Barrels, and an ice cream parlour. Parking for cinema customers will be free.
David Charlton, asset manager at NewRiver, said: “The introduction of Reel Cinema in Wakefield demonstrates our commitment to innovation in our shopping centres and our ability to adeptly address the oversupply of retail by repurposing the units to accommodate exciting new uses.
“With free parking for cinema customers, Reel will attract more people into the shopping centre day and night helping our existing retail partners as well as attracting new operators in both the retail and leisure sectors.
“We are also in regular dialogue with the City Council about what other experiences and services we can help to bring to Wakefield and always welcome feedback from our customers.
“Our new All Saints Yard, arts and community space, in partnership with The Art House, also adds originality and will hopefully add new spark to the City.
“We have worked closely with Reel to create something unique for the Wakefield community and we wish the Reel team all the best.”
The 13 other outlets in Reel’s growing portfolio are made up of former picture houses and older buildings. Family-run, independent business Reel Cinemas opened its first cinema in Loughborough in 2001; each cinema is contemporary and intimate, in contrast to the offer from large multiplexes.
Muhammad Faisal, head of operations at Reel Cinemas, said: “Wakefield is a wonderful city and the opportunity to open our first cinema in West Yorkshire was one we grabbed with both hands.
“The Ridings already attracts around 11 million customers a year and the centre’s family-friendly, community driven values really align with our own, so it felt like the perfect fit. This is our 14th cinema and it opens at an exciting time for the business as we look to open a further 10 cinemas across the UK in the next five years.”
Since acquiring The Ridings Centre in 2016, NewRiver has introduced a number of successful new initiatives, all focused towards ensuring that the shopping centre becomes a hub for the local community and compliments the nearby Trinity Walk.
These include a rooftop allotment for local people without a garden, and the repurposing of All Saints Yard, a new space for creative activities and events in Wakefield. The Ridings also hosts an award-winning monthly Cuppa Club initiative, which aims to combat loneliness.
The Cuppa Club has been such a success that it is now being rolled out across all 35 NewRiver shopping centres throughout the country. Following the success of its community projects, The Ridings shopping centre management team is now hoping that the opening of Reel Cinema will boost its leisure offering and attract customers from across West Yorkshire.