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Merlin Restructures Management to Focus on Growth

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MERLIN ENTERTAINMENTS plc has announced key changes to its management structure to allow the company to concentrate on 'creating, opening and operating the Merlin ‘magic'.

With effect from 15 June 2015, the company reports that these key areas will be clearly defined to ensure they receive maximum focus.

To facilitate this, Merlin is creating an entirely new operating group: New Openings which will drive all new attraction openings, and acquisitions. This Group will be responsible for these developments from initial Board approval through to at least one year trading after opening or acquisition, and their integration into the wider business.

The new group will be headed by Chief New Openings Officer, John Jakobsen, currently Managing Director of the LEGOLAND Parks Operating Group. Jakobsen joined Merlin in 2005 as part of the company’s acquisition of LEGOLAND Parks. In his new role, he will focus not only on LEGOLAND developments but also on spearheading Merlin’s Midway rollout, as well as any future acquisitions.

New Openings will operate alongside Merlin’s current three operating groups – LEGOLAND Parks, Midway Attractions, and Resort Theme Parks. The latter will relinquish responsibility for new developments to concentrate on delivering the highest quality experiences across Merlin’s portfolio.

The company's creative group, Merlin Magic Making, led by Chief Development Officer Mark Fisher, will continue to support the business.

“Merlin has an accelerating pipeline of new openings as we continue to deliver against our proven business model, " reports Merlin Entertainments CEO, Nick Varney. "To help ensure the success of these ambitious roll-out plans, and support any potential future acquisitions, we believe the creation of a dedicated New Openings team…will provide additional focus and efficiency. This change has also provided an opportunity to reinforce our commitment to continuous improvement and focus within our existing portfolio, and to promote two of our senior managers to add new expertise and impetus to the Executive Board.”

  • Hans Aksel Pedersen steps into Jakobsen’s shoes as Managing Director LEGOLAND Parks. Pedersen has been with LEGOLAND for 15 years, most recently as Divisional Director LEGOLAND Parks USA, overseeing the continued development of both LEGOLAND California and LEGOLAND Florida.
  • Nick Mackenzie takes on the role of Managing Director Midway Attractions, transferring from his current position as Managing Director Resort Theme Parks.  Mackenzie joined Merlin as part of the company’s acquisition of Tussauds in 2007 and led the company’s Property and Development Group until 2011 when he assumed the senior operational role as Managing Director Resort Theme Parks.
  • Justin Platt, currently Marketing Director Resort Theme Parks, succeeds Nick as Managing Director Resort Theme Parks. Platt brought his global marketing expertise to Merlin in 2011 as Marketing Director at the Alton Towers Resort. Last year he assumed the wider global role across all Merlin’s Resort Theme Parks.

According to Merlin, all other roles on the Executive Committee remain unchanged.

Varney adds, “These changes underline our commitment to further growth, and position the business for the next phase of Merlin’s expansion.”

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