The launch of a new British exhibition company was announced February 19 by its founding members. Zoo Cinema Exhibition Ltd has been formed by Clare Binns, managing director of Chris Blackwell's Oasis Cinemas, one of the UK' most established independent exhibitors.

David Wight, formerly managing director of Film Network Ltd, joins the company as director of operations and development, and Nick Theakston, an experienced corporate financier will act in a non-executive capacity as director of finance. The founding trio will be supported by the Oasis head office team who have moved across to the new company, which commences trading on March 1.

Zoo Cinemas' start up funding was secured from a number of un-named industry investors and the company now plans to roll out its concept for independent mainstream and arthouse cinemas through a mixture of acquisitions, new builds and management contracts.

While it is uncertain whether Zoo will thematically brand its new cinemas, part of its ongoing strategy will be to adopt the emerging digital projection platform. Zoo's new builds and acquisitions will target key city centres throughout the country, exploiting the market largely unserved by multiplexes.

Zoo will continue to manage the Oasis portfolio of cinemas (the Ritzy Brixton, Gate Notting Hill and Cameo Edinburgh) and programme the Everyman Hampstead, Phoenix East Finchley, The David Lean Cinema in Croydon and the Broadway, Letchworth. The company has also taken on the programming contract for the Film Network group, which has three sites in the London area.