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Amusement Parks: Merlin Entertainments the Fastest Growing Private Company in the UK

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Global visitor attraction operator Merlin Entertainments, owner of famous brands such as Madame Tussauds, LEGOLAND, SEA LIFE and the London Eye, today topped the 2009 Sunday Times PricewaterhouseCoopers Profit Track 100, clearly demonstrating that a UK company can lead the world in supplying high quality location based family entertainment.   

This prestigious league table, now in its tenth year and often termed ‘the definitive barometer of growth companies’, features Britain’s 100 private companies with the fastest growing profits measured over the last three years.   Merlin Entertainments has moved to the top slot from No 9 in 2008.  This underlines Merlin’s exceptional record of consistent growth and profitability stemming both from organic development and selected acquisition – and shows 130% annual profit growth over the three years 2004 – 2007 from £10.5m to £127.4m.     More than this, and perhaps most importantly, Merlin has seen 8 consecutive years of double digit EBITDA growth from its core attraction business (excluding any acquisitions).     Merlin’s 2008 figures (due to be released before the end of April)  will demonstrate a continuation of this trend, and even more importantly, the company’s ability to weather current economic pressures.  

This is the second of two major accolades for Merlin this year alone.    In February, the world’s number two visitor attraction operator – only Disney attracts more visitors – also topped – for the second year running  – the Sunday Times Deloitte Buyout Track 100, which identifies the private equity-owned companies in the UK with the fastest growing profits (EBITDA) of more than £50m.   Operating across 12 countries, and 3 continents – Europe, North America and Asia – Merlin also believes that these figures would put the company top of its sector worldwide.    While the Merlin Entertainments name is only now being recognized as one of the most dynamic in global leisure, however the company’s  iconic visitor attraction brands are household names both in the individual local markets in which they operate, but also increasingly on the global stage.  4 LEGOLAND Parks, 8 Madame Tussauds, 5 Dungeons, and 30 SEA LIFE attractions combine with local heroes like the London Eye, Alton Towers and Warwick Castle in the UK; Gardaland in Italy and Heide Park in Germany to form one of the most exciting and best known portfolios of leisure names anywhere.   Together Merlin’s 57 attractions;  6 hotels and 2 holiday villages – welcomed 35 million visitors in 2008 – a 10% increase on 2007. 

Merlin sees this Award as further testament not simply to the quality of its brands but importantly to a management team, supported  13, 500 employees,   which has both a clear vision and growth strategy, and the best record in the sector for maximizing the potential and profitability of its capital assets. 

Commenting, Chief Executive Nick Varney said: “   We are of course delighted to have topped this Sunday Times league table and I would like to take this opportunity to thank my team across the world for their commitment and hard work which underlines our growth success.   Our 2008 figures will undoubtedly show a continuation of this success, but given the current global economic climate 2009 will be a challenging year for all businesses.   That said, the Merlin culture of tight financial management and control, combined with a  clear positioning and focus for each of our attractions as well as for the business as a whole, means we are cautiously optimistic.  We will also not only continue to invest in our high quality, trusted, global leisure brands  – but also in the levels of customer service which we believe will ensure they remain first choice for family entertainment.  

For further information please contact:

Sally Ann Wilkinson/Penny Roberts       

Tel:                  020 8899 6110 / 020 8948 4225
Mobile:         07774 415372/ 07887 542490
Home:           020 8948 3725 (Sally Ann Wilkinson)
Email:             saw@thefirmcomms.com

The MERLIN ENTERTAINMENTS GROUP is the leading name in location based, family entertainment, which has seen the most successful and dynamic growth of any company in the sector over the last five years.   The world’s second largest visitor attraction operator, Merlin has 57 attractions and 6 hotels/2holiday villages in 12 countries, across 3 continents.   The company aims to deliver memorable and rewarding experiences to its 32.4 (2007) million visitors worldwide, through its iconic global and local brands, and the commitment and passion of its managers and 13, 500 employees.   Merlin Entertainments operates the following attractions – SEA LIFE, Madame Tussauds, LEGOLAND, The London Eye, Dungeons, Gardaland, LEGOLAND Discovery Centres, Alton Towers Resort, Warwick Castle, THORPE PARK, Chessington World of Adventures & Zoo, Heide Park, Underwater Adventures, and Earth Explorer.

See also:
World Leadership through People and Creative Ideas : An interview with Nick Varney, CEO of Merlin Entertainments Group

Merlin Entertainments – Rembrandt’s dark secret: Rembrandt show at The Amsterdam Dungeon
A New World Class Aquarium for the UK As Merlin Entertainments Reveals the ‘New’ Sea Life London Aquarium
Amusement Parks: First TV Campaign for Merlin Entertainments
Merlin Entertainment " Drop Dead at Edinburgh Dugeon This Easter!"

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