When Johannes Austermann took over the Scala Filmtheater in Warendorf, he began to bring his own ideas to the cinema. He used the lockdown period for extensive renovations and opened the Scala Café in the lower area. The trained banker has not regretted a day of succession so far.
In the interview, the Münsterländer gives an insight into the time after taking over the company.
Our podcast interview is now almost two years behind us. Tell us how you and your company have fared since then?
Corona hit hard during that time, but I was able to manoeuvre through it well with my self-employment. The people of Warendorf have carried me through this difficult time. Fortunately, we also ended up in a pilot project of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. This made us the first cinema in the whole of NRW to be allowed to reopen. We have always organised a variety of events and activities to offer our visitors something new. We arranged a snack window and set up a drive-in cinema. This is also enriching for me, as I have been able to gain great experience through it. A Warendorf artist couple designed a poster for my empty shop window, which we later sold and from which a complete series with six motifs was created. Through such actions we got through the difficult time well and it was fun for me to be creative.
Would you approach the succession again in exactly the same way as you did back then, or would you have arranged some things differently in retrospect?
I would do it all over again and I have never regretted giving up my full-time job at the savings bank. Sure, I made mistakes, but I didn't make any big ones because I always had great help from other cinema owners. That saved me from stupid blunders. Of course, I also made a few mistakes, but they were very rewarding and I was able to learn from them.
Has the relationship with the transferor changed in the last few years?
The relationship is great. We still exchange ideas. If I have a problem, I can always talk to him. He is totally enthusiastic about what has happened in the cinema and is happy with us about the success. He still lives here on the stage of the cinema, directly behind the screen. He also still owns the cinema. In that sense, he is also my landlord. All in all, it's a harmonious relationship.
Have you changed anything fundamental about the business in the last two years?
The biggest thing that has happened is the café conversion with my new full-time barista Volker, who is now running riot in the café. We've also revamped the café menu. The café is now open every day regardless of the cinema. During the lockdown, we completely renovated the cinema. There is new seating in the big hall, two new laser projectors, new screens and a completely new ventilation system. So we really reinvested in the cinema again - because we believe in the cinema and its future.
What's next for you? Are there any plans for the future?
A next project is to become the owner of the building, because I use most of the space and invest a lot in the building. So that is a logical next step for me. Basically, I would like to have two or three more halls to be able to offer a bit more film variety. The two auditoriums are a bit small. But that is very difficult at such a historic location. I'll have to see what's feasible, but I'm already dreaming of being able to offer the people of Warendorf more programmes. One thing is certain for me: I will hold on to this location and this cinema because it is such a traditional house.
Behind the production of the video is the joint project Gründergeist #Youngstarts Münsterland. The project strengthens the start-up intensity in the Münsterland region and opens up new start-up potential and target groups with its offers. The area of business succession focuses on potential successors for taking over a business, who are to be supported in their possible decision for succession. For this purpose, offers such as workshops, networking events and a podcast are available to those interested. It is funded by the European Union and the NRW Ministry of Economics as part of the ERDF call "Regio.NRW".