The Big Picture Enters Management Agreement with Ashford Borough Council to Run The Ashford Cinema

Shopping and leisure hub, Elwick Place, where The Ashford Cinema is based
Ashford, UK ( May 13, 2024 ) -

The Big Picture (Cinema and Leisure Solutions) Limited has been appointed by Ashford Borough Council (ABC) to manage the newly renamed The Ashford Cinema. Last week, the former Ashford Picturehouse came under the ownership of an ABC subsidiary company, Ashford Cinema Ltd., after Picturehouse decided to step away from their lease.

In a bid to keep the cinema – an anchor tenant in ABC’s shopping and leisure hub, Elwick Place – open, ABC worked with The Big Picture to explore viable solutions. They felt strongly that the loss of an important asset for the local community, and over 20 jobs, would have been hugely detrimental for the town.

Cinemas are a vital part of a town’s entertainment and cultural offering, providing social and economic benefits to the wider community. A recent study by the BFI found that, on average, a cinema drives £600,000 worth of wider economic social value to its local community per year.

The Big Picture reviewed the options for ABC and their recommendation was to create a new entity to allow the cinema to continue trading and prevent any job losses. ABC and The Big Picture jointly developed a forward-looking strategy to restore the cinema’s commercial viability.

The cinema has re-opened and re-branded to The Ashford Cinema. Over the coming months, The Big Picture team will provide an interim transitional management service, focused on transforming the cinema with a variety of exciting new offers and events to appeal to a more family friendly and local community audience, including a wider programme of films, and a new, exciting range of food and drink.

Mike Thomson, Partner at The Big Picture, says: “We are delighted to be working with Ashford Borough Council to keep this gem of a cinema open for the Ashford community. Our goal is to create a space for locals that adds a vibrancy to the town centre. The brilliant on-site team will remain the same and we will be working on ways we can improve on the offering and experience.”

Cllr Noel Ovenden, Leader of Ashford Borough Council says: “When Picturehouse informed us that they would be walking away from their long-term lease in early 2024 we felt it was important to take action. Rather than stand-by and do nothing, we decided we should step in for the benefit of the local community, and do all we can to keep our town centre cinema and entertainment offer at Elwick Place open for business. We are working with the experienced team at The Big Picture to deliver a brilliant cinematic experience and community based venue. I look forward to seeing The Ashford Cinema welcoming cinema lovers to the town centre.”

About The Big Picture
The Big Picture is a team of cinema & leisure experts who have delivered successful projects across the UK, and in over 30 countries globally. They have worked with local authorities and cinema operators to launch and manage a number of well-known leisure brands.

About Elwick Place
Elwick Place is Ashford town centre’s flagship leisure and entertainment destination. Located on the historically significant site of the town’s former Cattle Market, the development opened in 2018 and was designed by the award-winning Guy Hollaway Studio and delivered by Stanhope PLC in partnership with Ashford Borough Council.

Elwick Place is home to a six-screen cinema, 60-bed hotel, restaurant, cafè, bar and gym units as well as a 282-space car park and The Piazza, a public entertainment and events space.