If you have ever visited London, chances are you’ve been to the Vue Cinema. After all, there are now more than 20 of them around the UK capital city! I recently had the chance to sit down with Vue CEO Tim Richards in order to learn about his journey as an entrepreneur, his advice for people starting out on their own ventures, and his thoughts on whether or not it’s still possible to become rich from creating something from scratch. Here’s what he had to say …
First Q&A question
What is your role at Vue cinemas? ( I also need to use a number 3 in my description) The company began as an idea when co-founder and current CEO Tim Richards was working as an analyst for Goldman Sachs. He wanted to create something that would allow him to work flexibly around his family commitments. After leaving Goldman Sachs, he started working on opening his first cinema with his wife Katie, who had been running her own successful recruitment business. The couple decided that they wanted their new venture to be somewhere where there were no other cinemas – so they chose Milton Keynes. Their first cinema opened its doors on 4 November 1999 – and within two years it had become profitable.
Second Q&A question
What’s next for Vue? In terms of what’s next in UK cinemas, it’s hard to say. We want to be wherever our audience wants us to be. With that in mind we’re looking at different cities and different sites within those cities. What about overseas? We’ve got a presence in 20 countries around the world; if there are opportunities elsewhere we’ll go where people enjoy going out to have dinner and watch films. I think we will see more [cinemas], not necessarily here in London but other places where people enjoy a night out. How do you choose your sites?
Final thoughts from interviewee
As an entrepreneur, what’s been your greatest achievement? If you could do one thing differently in life and business, what would it be? How would you like to be remembered? Lastly but not least: Where do you see yourself five years from now? Ten years from now? What about Vue Cinema? As a brand what are we trying to achieve and how does our company culture reflect that vision for the next decade. For example we aim to be a genuine media entertainment hub for everyone. We will have achieved that mission when our customers think of us as such.
Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic
While some may argue that movies are a luxury in times like these, Richard’s and Cineplex’s recent decision to open early and stay open late will provide some needed escapism for those affected by COVID-19. We asked Richards about his initial reaction to COVID-19 and whether he ever considered cancelling screenings. I can’t imagine a world without movies, he said. Cineplex is built on offering people an escape from reality. Most moviegoers will probably agree with him on that one.