"By selecting J2, we’ve reduced our capital costs and our ongoing cost of ownership."
Julian Timm, IT Director, Empire Cinemas
Empire Cinemas are assembling a circuit of venues that they aim to make a beacon of quality for filmgoers. As the newest operator on the UK cinema scene, the company is combining new vision and values with a heritage that includes one of London’s best-loved entertainment landmarks.
The opportunity to create Empire Cinemas came about in 2005 when the merged businesses of Odeon and UCI and of Cineworld and UGC were each required to divest a number of cinemas. Empire grasped the chance to acquire 17 venues operating a total of 142 screens. These include The Empire in Leicester Square which they have made their flagship cinema and from which they have taken their name.
The new company is committed to a programme of change and investment that is already creating both a profitable business and a memorable experience for cinema-goers. New point-of-sale technology has been one of its first and most significant investments.
“By selecting J2, we’ve reduced our capital costs and ongoing cost of ownership. With one range of equipment at every pointof- sale, plus only one supplier to deal with for support, we have a solution that is far neater, better and easier to maintain.”
Julian Timm, IT Director, Empire Cinemas
As Julian Timm explains: “Across the sites we acquired, we found four different operating systems. They, in turn, were supported by four different organisations. This was a real management challenge. It was clear that we needed to consolidate our technology and support to just one supplier. In addition to rationalising our business processes, we believed this would reduce our ongoing support costs.”
There was a further goal, that of increasing sales of food, drinks and confectionery through concessions.
* The J2 system represents both lower capital costs and a lower ongoing cost of ownership
* The cost and effort required to maintain equipment have been greatly reduced
* New combined ticket and concession tills have generated increased customer spending
* Support for Chip & PIN cards at all points-of-sale has also encouraged increased spending
* The ability to close manned box offices at less busy times has made for a more efficient use of staff
* Management have been relieved of the burden of maintaining multiple supplier relationships
* Staff needed little training and became quickly familiar with the new equipment.
IT Director Julian Timm had known J2 Retail Systems from the past and included the supplier in his invitation to tender. At the end of the day, J2 came up with the most competitive proposition. “Whilst most vendors would provide only a 12-month equipment warranty, J2’s trademark warranty extends to 3 years.”
Empire also found J2’s ongoing support costs very competitive. “By selecting J2, we achieved both lower capital costs and a lower ongoing cost of ownership.”
The selected model was J2’s 560, its latest PCbased touchscreen. Equipped with a 15” screen, Empire found it to be a marked improvement over the smaller screens previously installed. J2 was also able to introduce a great deal of flexibility in terms of how and where equipment could be located. The 560s are counter-mounted for box office use and placed on stands for combined ticket and concession sales. This enables screens to be swivelled around to face cinema-goers, to look at seating plans.
A J2 560 is also fitted within the self-service kiosk in each cinema lobby. Here, customers can purchase tickets and collect those previously purchased via the Empire web site or telesales operation. In future, concession goods will be available for kiosk ordering and payment.
Empire Cinemas are now in the final stages of rolling out the J2 touchscreens to every venue. This will mark the achievement of a complete technology refresh.
The new system offers great ease of use, calls for minimal training and makes staff immediately familiar with its day-to-day operations. “Staff were happy using the new point-of-sale system within 5 minutes.”
Julian Timm describes how consolidation onto a single retail system has been a productive move and has enabled Empire Cinemas to achieve their goals. “We have a single piece of equipment as standard across the estate, and it is embedded within ticketing booths, concessions and at every point-of-sale. With one range of EPoS and one supplier to deal with for support, we have a solution that is far neater, better and easier to maintain.”
Empire can now sell tickets and concession items from a single point-of-sale. “As a result of being able to purchase their ticket and their popcorn and drinks at the same time, customers noticeably increase their spending.”
Support for Chip & PIN processing also came with the new J2 tills. Whilst previously only accepted in the box offices, all Chip & PIN debit and credit cards can now be processed at every point-of-sale. This has proved to be another factor in encouraging cinema-goers to spend more.
A further benefit is a more efficient use of equipment and more cost-effective use of staff. At quiet times in certain cinemas, it is now
practical to close box offices and sell tickets via the concession counters. “Our J2 systems are giving us savings in staff costs and making for a sensible use of our resources,” Julian Timm concludes.
About J2 Retail Systems
J2 Retail Systems is a specialist manufacturer of PC-based touchscreens, LCD touchscreen monitors and point-of-sale hardware to the retail, hospitality and leisure industries. With 50,000+ units installed worldwide, its clients include Vue Entertainment, Greggs and Thresher Group.
By controlling its own design and manufacture, J2 has built a reputation for innovation, reliability and cost-effectiveness. Credited with introducing ‘thin client’ EPoS to the market, J2 uses emergent technologies wherever possible to reduce the cost of hardware ownership.