Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Merlin Entertainments Preliminary Results for the year to December 25th 2010

Continued strong growth alongside further international expansion

Merlin Entertainments, Europe’s leading and the world’s second-largest visitor attraction operator, today announces its financial results for the year to December 25th 2010

KEY HIGHLIGHTS
  •  Total visitors increased to 41.0m – a rise of 2.5m (6.5%)
  •  Group Revenue up 4.1% to £800.8m (2009: £769.0m)
  •  Underlying Group EBITDA up 8.5% to £255.8m (2009: £235.7m)
  •  Capital investment of £103.8m during the year (2009: £101.2m), funded from operating cash flow
  •  Continued strong and resilient growth against a tough economic backdrop
  •  Performance driven by strong trading in existing estate
  •  International growth through 3 new openings on 3 continents
  •  2010 acquisitions of Cypress Gardens, Florida, USA to become LEGOLAND Florida and operating contract for the UK’s iconic Blackpool Tower Complex
  •  2011 acquisition of Sydney Attractions Group completed post year end
  •  Current 2011 trading in line with expectations
OPERATIONAL AND DEVELOPMENT OVERVIEW
  •  Good performance across all three Operating Groups: Resort Theme Parks; LEGOLAND Parks; Midway Attractions
  •  Theme park performance driven by the opening of new rides and attractions and the development of destination positioning (2-3 day stays)
  •  Continued momentum of Midway roll-out strategy with three attractions opened in the year
    •  LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Manchester;
    •  SEA LIFE Phoenix;
    •  Madame Tussauds Bangkok, first Merlin attraction in Thailand
  •  Move into the Australian and New Zealand markets with the acquisition of Sydney Attractions Group and Kelly Tarlton’s Underwater World. This acquisition added six businesses which attracted 2.6m visitors in 2010
  •  LEGOLAND Florida development proceeding to plan and due to open in October 2011
  •  Merlin appointed by Blackpool City Council to manage the redevelopment of and operate the iconic Blackpool Tower Complex
  •  Acceleration of growth plans for 2011 driven by:
    •  Innovative new rides and attractions opening in the existing estate including Atlantis Submarine Voyage at LEGOLAND Windsor, Raptor at Gardaland and the Kraken at Heide Park
    •  Seven further Midway openings across our five brands: three in the UK, two in Continental Europe and two in the US
    •  Opening of LEGOLAND Florida
    •  Integration of the Australian and New Zealand attractions into the Group
  •  Strong schedule of new attractions planned for 2012, with the opening of LEGOLAND Malaysia and the LEGOLAND Windsor Hotel and five new Midways including two in the US: SEA LIFE Kansas City and LEGOLAND Discovery Centre in Atlanta
  •  Strong development pipeline would leave Merlin with more than 80 attractions across four continents by the end of 2012
Nick Varney, Merlin Entertainments Chief Executive said, “We are delighted to report another year of strong performance from Merlin Entertainments, with growth coming from all parts of our unique business. During 2010 we significantly extended our geographic footprint, while delivering further growth in turnover and profitability as we welcomed 2.5m more visitors to our iconic attractions around the world.

“In the past year we have continued to invest to grow and develop our business.  We now operate over 70 attractions in 17 countries across four continents under our internationally recognised brands. Looking ahead, we have accelerated our growth plans and by the end of 2012 we will be operating more than 80 attractions as we develop further across Europe, North America and the Asia Pacific region.

“This year will be one of the most exciting in Merlin’s history. October will mark our move into the biggest family tourist centre in the world when we open the gates to LEGOLAND Florida. The development of this exciting theme park on the historic Cypress Gardens site has gone to plan and early ticket sales have confirmed our confidence in taking LEGOLAND to the heart of the US theme park market. In addition, we will capitalise on the wealth of opportunities open to us in the Asia Pacific market in the wake of our acquisition of the Sydney Attractions Group while keeping up the pace of change in Europe and the US with the opening of seven new Midway attractions. 

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“We are now approaching the start of our key trading period in confident mood. We have an impressive pipeline of new developments across all of our existing attractions, including thrilling new roller coasters in our theme parks in Germany and Italy. While the outlook for the consumer economy remains uncertain, we believe Merlin will make further good progress and continue to grow.  Under our new ownership structure we will continue to invest in our clear and proven strategy of growing our strong brands in a portfolio of attractions balanced by geography, product and demographics.”