Media conglomerate to become a restaurateur

Gazeta Wyborcza's headquarters in Warsaw. Photo:Wikimedia Commons

Agora, a Polish media conglomerate and publisher of Poland’s key opposition newspaper, is to branch out into the restaurant business.

Agora publishes Gazeta Wyborcza, whose editor-in-chief is Adam Michnik, one of the key opposition intellectuals during the Solidarity period and now one of the most vociferous critics of the current Law and Justice government. The newspaper famously supported Solidarity in the first free elections in Poland in 1989, leading to the fall of communism.

Print media sales have been dropping due to natural attrition in the internet age, but overall media income has also suffered due to a fall in advertising revenue from Gazeta Wyborcza and and the company’s attempts to branch out into the television industry stalled a few years ago.

Hence Agora has been relying on its newer business areas, in particular its outdoor advertising business and its the cinema chain, Helios, which was bought by the media giant back in 2010, to boost revenues.

It is Helios that is currently in the process of opening the first out of many restaurants. At the beginning of March, Helios signed an investment deal with catering industry firm. Together, they intend to roll out a chain of restaurants described as “fast casual”. Their aim is to create 45 of outlets over the next four years. Helios will allocate 10 million for this investment. On Wednesday Agora’s CEO, Bartosz Hojka said that the first restaurant will begin its operations in the second half of the year.

At the same time Helios intends to develop its cinema network. Tomasz Jagiełło, the CEO of Helios, has just announced that the company received a green light on its planned construction of a new cinema at one of the Warsaw’s major malls. Mr Jagiełło also stressed that the company had not noticed a negative influence of the Sunday trade ban, which now means shops in the malls where cinemas are often based, on its cinema ticket sales.

In June the media giant is expected to officially announce its new strategy.

In the last quarter Agora Capital group sales revenues dropped by 7.6 percent to PLN 278 mln.