Northern Ireland news

Movie House brings curtain down on Dublin Road, but Kainos puts new £40m Belfast HQ on hold

The signage is removed at the Movie House Cinema on Belfast's Dublin Road on Thursday morning. Picture by Mal McCann.
Ryan McAleer

IT FIRM Kainos has paused plans for its new £40 million headquarters in Belfast as part of cost cutting measures in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a trading update on Thursday, London stock exchange listed digital services company confirmed that it had started furloughing staff, paused recruitment, deferred pay increases until 2021 and moved to reduce all non-essential expenditure”.

That includes deferring capital investment in its new office on the site of the former Movie House Cinema on Belfast’s Dublin Road.

Kainos said it will result in “significant cost savings”.

The IT firm bought the Bankmore Square site in February 2019 in a £7m deal as part of efforts to consolidate its Belfast workforce, which is spread throughout nine buildings on three different sites in the city.

The cinema, which opened in 1993, was due to close on April 26 2020, but the closure was brought forward to March 17 in response to coronavirus safety concerns.

In a social media post yesterday, Movie House Cinemas said: “We had planned a series of closing events to give us time to say goodbye to all our customers over the years and to join together with our staff before they transfer to our other cinemas.

“Instead, we are only able to share some of our memories of Dublin Road online. Thank you for your support and warm wishes over the years.”

Kainos implemented homeworking for its 1,700 worldwide staff on March 5, including around 700 in Belfast. It said the move had been “seamless and without disruption to our customer projects”.

Despite the cost cutting measures, the company said it continues to provide support to key UK Government departments during the Covid-19.

That work in recent weeks has included support for the NHS app and consular services for UK citizens living or stranded overseas. Kainos’ software support has also involved emergency passport applications for urgent and compassionate reasons.

It has also offered pro bono support to key departments and care providers.

Kainos said it has around 550 “high quality” customers globally.

From April 1 2020, the IT firm said its chief executive Brendan Mooney, chief financial officer Richard McCann and senior vice-president for business development, Paul Gannon, hved elected to take no salary or bonus for six months.

The remaining members of the executive team will have compensation cut by 50 per cent, with fees for non-executive board cut by 20 per cent.

Yesterday’s trading update also affirmed that despite cash deposits in excess of £40m and no debt, the board said it will not declare a final dividend for the year ending March 31 2020, but will review the decision later in the year as the impact of coronavirus becomes clearer.

The board said it remains “too early to predict the duration or the severity of the economic disruption and any impact it will have on our customers”.

But they said the speed and nature of the decisions taken to date, will leave it well positioned when the economic impacts of Covid-19 begin to recede.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe from just £1 to get full access

Northern Ireland news