At today’s Annual General Meeting today for Pinewood-Shepperton PLC, Chairman Lord Grade has given an upbeat assessment of the company’s current performance and future prospects, even as a final decision is awaited on Pinewood’s expansion scheme.
Speaking to shareholders, Grade remarked that film revenues “reflect very high stage and facility occupancy, television continues to experience high levels of utilisation, Media Hub occupancy is currently 99% and Media Investment is progressing well.”
On the TV side, he 45,000 sq ft television and film facility at Pinewood Studios, Q Stage, was completed on 27 September 2013. Camelot Plc, operators of the National Lottery, moved into the new Studio TV3 at Pinewood Studios under a five year contract on 9 September 2013 to broadcast the National Lottery live.
Grade reported “a positive start to the new financial year” across all revenue streams. This follows on from the encouraging preliminary results for the year ended on 31 March 2013 that the company published in June.\
“The Board looks forward to the future with confidence,” Grade stated.
One key issue remains to be resolved. As Grade stated, “we need to increase capacity at Pinewood Studios.” Earlier this summer, the company’s plans for a £200 million expansion scheme were rejected by South Buckinghamshire Council. The scheme was asking for 15 more stages, more workshops, another backlot and more production offices.
In late May, the Company submitted an appeal against this refusal (by 6 votes to 4) of the planning permission for the Pinewood Studios Development Framework (“PSDF”) to create additional capacity at Pinewood Studios.
A public inquiry is due to start on Nov 19. This is expected to run for about four weeks. The planning inspector will then write a report which will be delivered to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (currently Eric Pickles MP.) A final decision on whether the expansion can go ahead is expected in early 2014.
Meanwhile, Christopher John Naisby has been appointed as Pinewood’s finance director. He joins the board as an executive director from 30 September 2013. Naisby joined the Company in 2001 as finance manager, having previously held a number of positions in the finance teams of construction and media companies, including Reed Elsevier. Following promotion to financial controller in April 2008, he was appointed group finance director of the Pinewood Studios Group in April 2012.