Merlin Entertainments, Europe’s leading and the world’s second-largest visitor attraction operator, announced final financial results for the 52 weeks to December 29th 2012.
Revenues grew by 15.2% to break the £1 billion mark (£1.1 billion) with increased visitor numbers (54 million). Operating profit grew by 16.5% to £258 million.
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Nick Varney, Chief Executive of Merlin Entertainments, said, “Merlin made further substantial progress in 2012, beating our profit target for the thirteenth year in a row, due to the consistent and successful execution of our diversification and expansion strategy. We have continued to add to our world class global portfolio of attractions, which is balanced by geography, product and demographics. The successful roll-out of Midway attractions continues, with a particular focus on cluster locations, as does our ongoing investment in the development of the existing estate.
“We are particularly pleased to have announced both record sales, which broke the £1bn barrier for the first time, and a record number of visitors – 54 million. Our success was achieved in spite of the fact that 2012 was one of the most challenging years we have experienced since founding Merlin in 1999, with the unprecedented combination of three negative factors creating an extremely tough trading environment for many of our European attractions. In northern Europe our theme parks were hit by the wettest weather on record through all of our key trading periods while those in southern Europe felt the impact of the continued Eurozone crisis. In the UK our attractions had to compete with the London Olympics – a £10bn, ‘once in a lifetime’ event that attracted more than 10m visitors in the middle of our peak season.
“2012 was one of our most significant years in terms of expansion. We opened seven new attractions across Asia Pacific, North America and Northern Europe and Merlin now operates almost 100 attractions across four continents. We are committed to maintaining this momentum through 2013 and beyond with a strong schedule of new openings and exciting plans for the ongoing development of our existing attractions.
“While the economic outlook remains uncertain, the investments we made through 2012 and our unrelenting focus on customer satisfaction mean that Merlin is stronger than ever and better placed to deliver even more memorable experiences in 2013. The business continues to broaden its international footprint, diversifying its revenues and providing further exposure to faster growing economies in Asia Pacific and North America. All this means our iconic brands will attract more visitors in more locations around the world through 2013 and we look forward to a challenging but exciting year.”
- Double digit growth driven by increased visitor numbers, continued roll out of Midway attractions and international expansion as well as the aquistion of Living and Leisure Australia.
- Like for like performance was impacted by adverse weather conditions, the Olympics and the Eurozone crisis.
- Investment spend of £163m (2011: £174m) – £92m on existing estate, £71m on new businesses.
- Successful implementation of new e-commerce strategy leading to significant growth in online sales through re-launched branded websites.
- Strong performance from Midway Attractions, with continued success of the Midway cluster strategy and benefits from 2011 openings coming through. Six further openings: LEGOLAND Discovery Centres in Tokyo (Japan), Atlanta and Kansas City (US); SEA LIFE Centre in Kansas City; Madame Tussauds in Sydney (Australia) and the SEA LIFE Tower in Weymouth (UK).
- Strong performance from LEGOLAND Parks across all regions; LEGOLAND Florida now firmly established as a destination attraction in the world’s largest attraction market, building on success with opening of a water park; successful opening of LEGOLAND Malaysia, the first LEGOLAND attraction in Asia; opening of LEGOLAND Windsor Hotel, which traded well ahead of its targets.
- Resort Theme Parks delivered resilient performance in a challenging year; UK and Germany hit by exceptionally wet weather in all key trading periods; UK attractions impacted by Olympics; Italy affected by ongoing weakness in consumer confidence due to Eurozone crisis.
- Net debt broadly flat at £1, 279m (2011: £1, 209m) with new acquisition finance for LLA offset by strong cash generation across the Group.
- Strong schedule of new attractions planned through 2013, including LEGOLAND Discovery Centres in Toronto (Canada), Oberhausen (Germany), and Westchester, New York (US); Madame Tussauds in Tokyo (Japan); Dungeon in Berlin (Germany) and SEA LIFE Centre in Manchester (UK). In line with our destination resort strategy, we are opening a hotel in LEGOLAND California.