Inox’s chief sales and revenue officer Vishal Anand has helmed critical management roles with various cinema entities. With a career spanning over two decades, he has managed many portfolios including business operations, sales and marketing.
Anand has played a spectacular role in driving box-office growth and advertising revenue generation for Inox across multiple platforms & channels. Sharing about the optimistic approach toward growth and expansion of Inox, Anand revealed his plan to add 16 properties with 77 screens in the upcoming year. He also talks about tapping new markets and adding 900 screens that would expand Inox’s presence to over 30 new towns and cities.
With a holistic and in-depth knowledge of the cinema exhibition business, his expertise lies in developing & executing sales strategies, building strategic coalitions and mapping opportunities. He thrives on cluster mapping, opportunity management and working with cross-functional peers to deliver consistently.
Under his leadership, Inox’s business has regained its market momentum with nearly 80 per cent of its business reaching the pre-covid levels and it is expected to revive complete 100 per cent business growth in the next two months, thereby hinting towards better performance and capitalisation during the upcoming festive seasons.
Indiantelevision.com caught up with Anand to find out about Inox's plans and cinema exhibition business.
On improving operational efficiencies after the merger with PVR
While I can’t speak much on the subject, all I can say is that the synergies of the two organisations are going to fetch tremendous value for all the stakeholders, and most importantly, the cinema lovers of India.
On levelling up Inox's revenues and profit back to pre-covid level
The fourth quarter served as a reminder of the pre-covid times for us as well as for the cinema industry, with the remarkable 11 million footfall and 24 per cent occupancies. Within the fourth quarter, the month of March was thunderous, to say the least, with magnificent record-breaking numbers. I am happy to say that we garnered the highest ever F&B collection in a single month, in March 2022. We also reported our highest ever quarterly spends per head or SPH at Rs 91 in Q4. On a full-year basis, we have recorded an increase in spend per head from Rs. 79 to Rs. 97 in the last year.
On reducing fixed costs by 10 per cent via manpower reduction
A number of organisations all over the world prioritize cost management as a routine business practice, and there are numerous ways to do it. Use of technology, optimum utilisation of resources and assets are other smarter ways to do it.
On the capex for the current fiscal and the screen expansion strategy
We look to add more than 77 screens in this financial year. As a brand, we have always been hungry for growth and expansion. Whether it was calendar year 21 or FY22, we ended up adding the most number of screens in the industry, even when the tides were against us. We are as optimistic as we have always been. We plan to add 16 properties with 77 screens in FY23, out of which, 13 screens have already been added.
On deciding about different forms of multiplexes like Megaplex
There is a lot of research and business intelligence which goes into the process of defining the shape, size and number of auditoriums for a cinema. The size and affluence of the catchment, their paying propensity, their aspirations, the competition’s presence, and the F&B revenue feasibility are some of the factors which are ascertained while giving shape to a multiplex.
Our Megaplexes in Mumbai and Lucknow have allowed us to delight our guests with world-class cinema viewing experiences, fascinating design and ambience, great dining options and above all, fantastic memories to cherish.
On the number of malls in the country is a challenge
The Indian cinema exhibition industry can be characterised by a massive appetite for cinematic entertainment and a massive supply of good quality content in multiple Indian languages, but a market which is heavily under-screened. With more than five movies delivering box office collections in excess of Rs 100 crore post, the unlock after the third wave of covid is a testimony to our country’s massive consumption capabilities and well the availability of the content of terrific quality. At the same time, the screen count in our country has been marginally going down. In short, there’s ample demand and ample supply, but the mode of consumption is scarce. Our country’s bludgeoning and ever-growing young aspiration-driven population deserve more good quality entertainment destinations to enjoy the world-class content produced in India, for which the gap needs to be bridged.
On how the government need to do more to aid the growth of multiplexes
The entire value chain, which includes state and local level government authorities, mall developers, the technology providers and cinema chains will all have to play a part in this endeavour. The clearances to open a cinema need to be consolidated and streamlined into a single window clearance system. This should go a long way in speeding up the regulatory compliance process.
The mall-developers community also needs to be armed with simplification of the regulatory environment around the real-estate business, which should allow them to break free and go aggressive on urbanization. Our cinema technology partners must also be prepared to add to the layers of technology and scale up to satiate the demand of various markets in our country. Overall, the government must incentivise and encourage the stakeholders in the cinema exhibition industry, which should not only help them recover from the shackles created by covid, but also set new benchmarks globally.
On how the box office is shaping up this year
We have an extremely positive sentiment for FY23, thanks to an extremely rich pipeline with movies in all genres and languages, including “Dhaakad”, “Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2”, “Maidaan”, “Major”, “Prithiviraj”, “Anek”, “Lal Singh Chaddha”, “Avatar 2”, “Ram Setu”, “Top Gun: Maverick”, “Jurassic World: Dominion” and “Adipurush”. Movies and cricket are two primary and biggest sources of entertainment in India
On the impact of inflation
Cinema viewing is a part of our country’s cultural fabric, and to some extent inflation-proof, as proven by the industry’s rollicking performance over the past quarter or so. With about 10 per cent of our screens in the premium category and an even presence in 73 cities across the country, we have a fair mix of premium and affordable experiences and ticket prices across a vast price range. We have not brought in any modifications in our approach due to inflation.
On the plan to tap into the smaller towns and cities
Our additional pipeline of more than 900 screens would expand our presence to more than 30 new towns and cities where we do not have our presence currently. Cinema has a universal demand in our country and we have a strong desire to get closer to our customers and take the world-class cinema experience to new geographies.
On the revenue split between ticketing and other areas like F&B
We generate about 60 per cent of our revenues from ticket sales, about 25 per cent of our revenues from F&B sales and about 15 per cent of our revenues from sales of cinema advertisements.
On the idea of doing merchandising
We are in the business of movies, and in recent times movies have transformed into movie franchises and are considered brands themselves. Like with every brand, movies also connect on a deeper level with fans who seek this connection and they develop a community with fellow movie lovers. The fans also crave a sense of belonging and something solid when it comes to their favourite movie franchise and stars. We aim to provide this sense of belonging to this large group of passionate fans through our channels. This would help us enlarge and engage the community of Inox patrons as we offer them a shared sense of enjoyment.
On F&B activities including the home, delivery deals with Swiggy, Zomato
Inox has implemented a comprehensive and renewed F&B roadmap with the introduction of some new processes and exciting innovations, including making our food available on online food ordering platforms, Swiggy and Zomato. The idea is to tap a new consumer base that buys our food products even if they are not watching a movie, besides strengthening the F&B revenue stream. We have also introduced home-meal replacement options. We have included meal options like Pulao, Biryani, Dal Makhani, the much-loved servings of Rajma-rice & Chana-rice, Pastas, Garlic Bread, Tandoori Popcorn and Chilli Cheese Toasts.
Recently, we announced our partnership with table reservation and food discovery platform, EazyDiner. We are the first cinema chain in India to get listed on the table reservation platform – EazyDiner. With this collaboration, EazyDiner members can avail of a flat 15 per cent discount across all Inox food counters and Café Unwind. Making the experience more rewarding and befitting, EazyDiner members can enjoy a flat 25 per cent discount across all Insignia lounges across the country on reserving a table via EazyDiner.
Inox has announced its partnership with ITC’s ready-to-eat, gourmet brand Kitchens of India to introduce a re-defined innovative F&B experience across all multiplexes across India. With this first-of-its-kind partnership, Inox aims to add a new experience in the cinema halls through a trusted range of 100 per cent natural, Indian gastronomical delights.
On improving in-cinema advertising revenue
Yes, the advertising revenues are not just back to normal but have come back with a renewed rigour. We are back to nearly 80 per cent of the pre-covid levels and expect it to reach 100 per cent within the next two months, well in time to capitalize on the festive season with our complete might. We are seeing a new crop of brands which are keen to explore the unique benefits of cinema advertising, and take their brands to audiences, who are coming to cinemas with a huge pent up appetite for the community viewing experiences.
With a marvellous content pipeline, a huge desire for participating in community experiences and our efforts to offer unparalleled cinema experience, we are sure of registering a strong comeback on this front.
On in-cinema advertising goals of the company
While offering both reach and recall, there are plenty of benefits of cinema advertising. It offers a tremendous visual impact, which comes through the biggest possible screens that the audience would come across. Another reason behind the success of cinema advertising is the captive state of mind in which the audience is seated in the auditorium, which leads to negligible avoidance of visual communication.
Cinemas offer higher brand recall and engagement with premium audiences compared to any other medium. While cinema advertising can act as a great tool for geography-specific marketing, we also bring on a national scale thanks to our massive presence in 73 cities with 692 screens.