By DENNIS SEID / Daily Journal

NEW ALBANY – VIP Cinema Holdings Inc., after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month, has closed for good.

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the company told its remaining employees that because of the coronavirus pandemic, it could not get the financing it needed to restructure.

VIP, which was founded in 2008, had grown to become the largest provider of the chairs with 70% of the market. But it said it had been hurt by a slowdown in the number of screens, a drop in box office sales and a longer replacement cycle of the chairs.

When it filed for Chapter 11 in February, the company had 373 employees. VIP had hoped to emerge with about $150 million less debt, according to WSJ.

H.I.G. Capital, a Miami-based private equity firm, invested $62.5 million in VIP in 2017 and bought out its former owners. It would have kept a share of the company after restructuring, but according to the Wall Street Journal, backers of the strategy had second thoughts as theaters around the country closed in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

VIP had expanded over the years into 900,000 square feet of manufacturing space, and at its peak employed some 550 workers. The company could produce up to 1,000 chairs a day, and had delivered more than 1 million to theaters worldwide.