The Luxe Cinema in Wisbech has made it through to the finals of a national competition to find Britain’s friendliest business.

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The cinema, which opened in the town five years ago, has been chosen as one of 20 finalists for the award by impressing judges with its strong entry for airing independent films and actively supporting young filmmakers.

Burleigh Ibbott opened the Alexandra Road premises in March 2009 making it the first cinema for the town since 1982.

The former London-based live events engineer was inspired to launch the business after reading the blogs of a 23 year old American who opened an independent cinema in Illinois in 2000.

“His blogs were entertaining and witty and I found that day by day I actually learnt how to launch a cinema. There was still a lot to learn, much of it I found out as we went along, but it has been a great process.

“We’re obviously getting something right as we got a lot of support from local people and loads of positive comments on our Facebook and Twitter pages.”

Visitors walk in to find a luxurious bar area and comfortable leather seats and unlike most cinemas, is fully licensed, so that customers can take alcohol in with them as they watch a film.

Award organisers, Liberis, said the cinema was picked for playing an integral part in the community, from raising £3,000 a year for various charities to sponsoring local football teams.

The judges also liked the company’s community ethos of planning to install a second screen to give customers more choice and provide events for the community.

Mr Ibbott’s passion for cinema began more than 20 years ago when he worked as a projector’s assistant.

His aim back then as it is now is to provide a friendly face to the cinema industry.

He is about to launch a new Friends of the Luxe scheme with loyalty cards and the chance to buy gift cards.

Paul Mildenstein, CEO of Liberis, said: “We’ve been bowled over by the quality of entries and the obvious passion and devotion that Britain’s small businesses give to make sure their customers get the very best service. They should all be celebrated, but the Luxe Cinema really stood out.”

Each finalist now has to get as many Facebook Likes as possible as part of the final stage of the competition.

The number of likes received will be considered by the judges when they make their final decision on the winner.

Support the businesses on Twitter @Liberis UK using the hashtag #BFBiz and on Facebook at facebook.com/BritainsFriendliestBiz.

The winner and two runners up will be announced at the end of February.

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