VIP Cinema Seating closing in New Albany permanently

People moving boxes out of the main office Monday afternoon.

New Albany Mayor Tim Kent said Monday that he had learned VIP Cinema Seating was closing permanently. This came when the Wall Street Journal called him requesting a comment about the closing.

That publication was reporting the closing later Monday.

Although management had not confirmed this with a public announcement here, only a few vehicles were at the main office and it appeared that employees were carrying boxes of items out to cars.

The company had been fast-growing with a global market since its founding a dozen years ago, specializing in luxury theatre seating.

As recently as a year or so ago the company was occupying nearly one million square feet of space in three different parts of the city and employing nearly 475 people.

VIP Cinema was sold and the corporate office moved to St. Louis. After that, the company reduced the number of employees and then, early this year, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The reasons for the downturn included reduced movie attendance, a smaller number of new theatres being constructed and, ironically, that their seats were lasting longer than expected, delaying the need for replacement.

The plan called for the company to hand majority control over to private equity firm H. I. G. Capital, which would allow it to get rid of long-term debt and adjust to the changing market. The hope was to come out from Chapter 11 protection in April and retain 373 jobs.

The coronavirus crisis with closing of theaters and social distancing likely played a role in the company’s decision to close.

As of this year VIP was reported to have 70 percent of the United States luxury seating market and had sold between a half million and one million seats.

The company closing process was expected to take two months.

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