Movie-goers all in a tizz
News that one of the Bay’s three movie houses will be closing its doors at the end of the month has left Walmer Park Shopping Mall customers and shop managers disgruntled.
The centre will be undergoing several changes in the near future, with restaurant John Dory’s also closing its doors, but according to centre management the franchise will return as a new store as part of a redevelopment project.
Despite rampant rumours doing the rounds on social media that Swedish-based clothing retailer H&M will be joining the list of clothing chains at the centre, neither H&M management nor management from Walmer Park would confirm the store’s plans.
Public relations manager for H&M South Africa Amelia-May Woudstra said nothing had been communicated about the Port Elizabeth store.
“We haven’t sent out any communication to media regarding a store opening in Port Elizabeth.”
Walmer Park’s Leonie Scheepers confirmed changes would be taking place as part of the redevelopment project at Walmer Park.
“Yes, Nu Metro Cinemas will be closing at the end of February 2018, their lease expired in December 2016 and [it] has been trading on a month-to-month basis since then. They have decided not to renew their lease.
“John Dory’s will be closing at the end of February 2018. However, it will be coming back to the centre into a new store as part of the redevelopment project at Walmer Park,” she said.
Scheepers said she could not confirm whether H&M would be trading at the centre in the near future.
“With regards to H&M, I cannot confirm if they will be moving in. I can, however, confirm that we are in discussions with an international retailer for Walmer Park, as part of our redevelopment project.”
A Nu Metro employee, who wished not to be named, said staff were given the option to relocate to another branch in the country or take up retrenchment.
“Only about three people took the option to move to another city. We all have our families and lives here, it is not that easy to just move.
“We were told in December that we had three months until we are closing. It is really sad because most of us will be without work soon,” she said.
Nu Metro’s national general manager Nitesh Matai said: “Nu Metro Cinemas felt that the Port Elizabeth community was adequately serviced by our other cineplex at the Boardwalk casino complex.
“We are saddened to see the closing of one of our longest-running cinema complexes but are very pleased to have reached an agreement with Walmer Park centre management regarding this move.
“It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but changing consumer trends within Port Elizabeth warranted it. Our aim is to give moviegoers the best there is in world-class entertainment experiences,” he said.
Exclusive Books night shift manager Ute van Wyk said the closure of Nu Metro would definitely affect the store.
“We will be 100% affected because a lot of our customers who come into the store, especially at night, are killing time until the 8pm movie starts.
“It is quite sad because they have been here since I was at school and from a sentimental point of view, to not have them in the mall any more makes it seem like the entertainment is dying a bit,” she said.
Van Wyk said John Dory’s also added to the entertainment court and if they were to leave, there would be nothing much left for shoppers to enjoy.
Shoppers Jenna Clack, of Walmer, and Kayla Greef, of Lovemore Heights said they were sad the cinema was closing as it would now be further to travel if they wanted to watch a movie.
“It really is sad that all these places are closing down because even St Elmo’s is no more, the entertainment area at Walmer Park won’t be the same if the movies close down,” Clack said.
“It’s quite shocking to see everything closing down.”
Greef said she wasn’t too phased about John Dory’s because one could find the franchise anywhere, but she was sad about the movies.
“What will there be left to do now in Port Elizabeth if these movies close down, because I don’t want to travel all the way to Baywest or The Boardwalk. This was close by,” she said.
Pam Warden, of Greenacres, and Harriet Harvey, of Walmer Heights, said they were shocked about the Nu Metro closure.
“We used to bring our kids here and now they have kids so it has been a part of PE’s entertainment for a long time and it is sad to see this happen,” Warden said.
“At this rate, there will be nowhere to go soon.”