Ardent Leisure to combat Dreamworld’s slow recovery with investment

Ardent Leisure’s FY2018 results have been hit by slower than expected recovery from its Australian theme park, Dreamworld. The group plans investment in safety, guest experience and new attractions.

After tax, the company reported a net loss of $90.7 million.

Ardent reported revenue was down 5.1%. this was primarily due to the sale of three businesses. Revenue from continuing businesses was up 16.1%.

Revenue is driven by Ardent Leisure’s bowling-anchored entertainment company, Main Event. It is now the primary division, accounting for over 80% of FY18 revenue.

Main Event benefited from growth in walk-in sales. This was primarily associated with pricing optimisation around promotional offers. Main Event also spent more on marketing to advertise new centre openings, some in new markets.

Dreamworld continues to recover from an accident in October 2016, that lead to the death of four visitors. This recovery is slower than anticipated. Revenue was also impacted by discounted ticket pricing.

The park did see recovery in the second half of the year. Visitation was up 12.5%.

Investment and development

Working with a restructured management team, Dreamworld will focus on the key objectives of

  • Global Best Practice, Safety & All Operations
  • One Team
  • Moving Forward

They are investing a reported $30 million into upgrades. These include a $15 million flying theatre attraction (iRide) and an expansion to White Water World. It also includes $4 million towards safety management systems and improvement to guest experience and communications.

The company sold its Bowling & Entertainment division on 30 April 2018. This generated a profit on sale of $20.3 million.

Ardent said: “Our Theme Park business requires significant capital to develop new attractions and other infrastructure and safety improvements, not only to support our recovery efforts but also to make progress towards becoming the preeminent Gold Coast entertainment precinct built around Dreamworld.”

The company also has plans for Main Event properties. There will be an “aggressive focus” on expansion of properties’ footprints. They will prioritise new centre development in both existing and new markets.

The company also plans to develop a loyalty programme that rewards desired behaviours.

Currently Dreamworld and the neighbouring WhiteWater World waterpark account for 35-hectares of land owned in Coomera by Ardent. Last year, the company began a review of its masterplan in order to facilitate Dreamworld’s recovery and ensure it remains one of the Gold Coast’s key attractions.