Odeon makes “tough but necessary” decision to cut jobs amid the coronavirus crisis

The cinema chain was forced to clarify claims made by a workers union group

Odeon has announced it will change the structure of some staff roles “in light of the changing long-term trading environment” due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The British cinema chain said structural changes to jobs in its local cinema management and support office teams are expected “to have an impact on some roles” moving forward. It did not specify the number of potential job losses in its plant.

Odeon was forced to respond to a Twitter chain by the Odeon Workers Union today (October 9) – a group that says its workers are “loosely supported by BECTU” (The Broadcasting, Entertainment, Communications and Theatre Union) – which claimed Odeon was making all salaried staff member roles working on the ground in cinemas redundant.


In response, a spokesperson for Odeon told NME: “Since July, we have been reopening our cinemas and welcoming guests back through our doors. We have introduced increased safety measures and the response from our guests has been overwhelmingly positive.

“The vast majority of our sites are now open, and we expect this to remain the case in the months ahead.

“As was the case last week, there will inevitably be some instances where we draw on our plans to flex opening times in line with local demand, or in a very small number of cases, temporarily close specific cinemas.

“Separately, in light of the changing long-term trading environment, we are also planning changes to the structure of local cinema management and support office teams which is expected to have an impact on some roles.

“This is a tough but necessary decision which in no way reflects the hard work and dedication of our colleagues, and we thank them for their understanding during this time.”


Odeon Cinema in Milton Keynes (Picture: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Separately, a spokesperson for the Odeon Workers Union said: “As our group is an informal collection of staff and BECTU does not have a recognition agreement with Odeon there is not much we can do at this point. BECTU are supporting their members currently undergoing redundancy consultation and as staff we are left to wait for more information regarding the upcoming changes.

“We would like to express our disappointment that Odeon would choose to make this decision now after all the hard work our management teams have put into getting cinemas back on their feet, and urge those at the head office not to take a course of action that would negatively impact either the work lives of staff still remaining in cinemas or our ability to continue screening films in a safe, COVID-secure environment.”

The news comes days after Odeon announced that it is set to operate a weekend-only model at a quarter of its venues, as well as close a quarter of its venues during the week.

Odeon, which operates 120 venues across the UK and Ireland, confirmed to members of its ‘Limitless’ loyalty scheme that the weekend model will run between Friday and Sunday, with a spokesperson adding that some venues will operate from Thursday to Sunday. It kicks off today (October 9).

Other cinema chains have taken decisions to temporarily shut their theatres to help weather the storm of the current crisis. Last week, Cineworld confirmed it will temporarily suspend its operations in UK and US cinemas, putting 45,000 jobs – including 5,500 in the UK – at risk.

Vue, meanwhile, has not made any announcements on shutting its cinemas. Founder and CEO Tim Richards said cinemas in general “will survive” the COVID-19 crisis following the delay of James Bond film No Time To Die.