Damian Keogh has been appointed CEO of the Hoyts Group, succeeding Delfin Fernandez who is retiring after nearly nine years in the post.

Keogh has been CEO of the Hoyts-owned cinema advertising firm Val Morgan since July 2011; before that he was national sales director of the Multi Channel Network for seven years.

The change is effective immediately but Fernandez will remain until March 31 to ensure a smooth transition and will continue to serve on the Hoyts Group board.

"I have worked closely with Delfin and have learned a lot from him," Keogh tells IF. He will retain his role as CEO of Val Morgan but says there will be a slight restructuring of the division's management.

Keogh says one of his aims is to improve the food and beverage offerings for Hoyts patrons, which implies its premium Hoyts Premiere service may become more competitive with Event Cinemas' and Village Cinemas'  Gold Class.

"Delfin has done a wonderful job for the Hoyts Group during his eight and a half years as CEO,” said group chairman David Kirk. “He has decided that now is the time to pursue a range of other interest and we wish him well.”

Kirk said cinema advertising has grown by more than 20% per year in the past two years under Keogh’s watch, while digital out-of-home ad network Val Morgan Retail has expanded by more than 60%.

Keogh said, “Hoyts is an iconic Australian brand and I am excited about the opportunities in the filmed entertainment business generally. Hoyts is well positioned to profit from the changes we are seeing in the industry, both at the cinema and in our growing home entertainment business.”

“Damian is a proven high performer and we look forward to him bringing the same leadership and skill he has shown at Val Morgan to the wider Hoyts Group,” said Simon Pillar, MD of Private Equity Partners, the private equity firm that advises the funds that bought the group in 2007.

Born in Puerto Rico and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, Fernandez was appointed managing director of the newly formed venture, Hoyts-General Cinema, based in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1998.

Following an ownership change in 2002, he was named CEO of Hoyts General Cinema South America. At  Hoyts he spearheaded the acquisitions  of DVD rental kiosk business Oovie, renamed Hoyts Kiosk, two out-of-home advertising businesses, the Berkeley Cinemas in New Zealand and the Queensland-based  AMC circuit.

Hoyts is due to launch VOD service Hoyts Stream in the coming months. "It is a natural extension of our kiosk business," says Keogh.

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