Merlin Entertainments PLC has released a trading update showing 3.8% growth despite what it calls ‘challenging trading’ in Resort Theme Parks.
The company has traded in line with expectations over the summer period, which were revised following the Alton Towers accident.
Nick Varney, Merlin Entertainments Chief Executive Officer, said: “The trends we reported at the half year have continued throughout the summer. The performance of our LEGOLAND Parks Operating Group has remained strong, with very positive guest satisfaction. However, this has been offset by the impact of reduced visitation across the Resort Theme Parks Operating Group, primarily at Alton Towers Resort, and Euro weakness impacting visitation at our London attractions.
“While near term challenges remain, the Group is making good overall progress on its growth strategy. We have significant new investments planned across the estate and are well placed to deliver these in 2016 and beyond.”
According to the report, Midway Asia has performed strongly, a major contributing factor being the launch of seven new attractions including DreamWorks Tours – Shrek‟s Adventure!
A further seven new attractions are planned for 2016: LEGOLAND Discovery Centres in Arizona (US), Michigan (US) and Shanghai (China), SEA LIFE Centres in Rome (Italy) and Chongqing (China), and Madame Tussauds in Istanbul (Turkey) and Chongqing (China).
LEGOLAND Parks has also performed strongly with like for like revenue growth of 6.7%, driven primarily by the two parks in North America and LEGOLAND Deutschland. Merlin reports that the new LEGOFriends themed areas at LEGOLAND Windsor, California and Florida have proved popular and helped to attract a wider demographic.
The new hotel at LEGOLAND Florida, which opened in May, has also shown a strong opening season.
In 2016, LEGOLAND Park, Dubai opens, under a management contract. Further LEGOLAND parks are under construction in Japan and South Korea and negotiations for future parks in the US and China remain ongoing.
Resort Theme Parks
This division has seen a decline in trading over the summer – reduced visitor numbers at Alton Park were further affected by poor UK weather.
In Italy, Gardaland Resort performed well, thanks to major ride investment. Significant investment in accommodation at Alton Towers Resort and Chessington World of Adventures has helped to offset the like for like revenue decline.
Merlin says it will continue to grow the existing estate ‘through planned investment cycles’ – all sites will be updated with new rides, attractions, shows or features in 2016.
Attractions singled out for ‘high year’ investment include Madame Tussauds Bangkok, SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, LEGOLAND Billund and Thorpe Park.