OPERATIONAL AND DEVELOPMENT OVERVIEW
- Strong and resilient growth in turnover and profitability, delivered against a tough economic backdrop
- Performance driven by increasing visitor numbers, continued international expansion, successful roll-out of Midway attractions and ongoing investment in existing estate
- Capital investment of £174.1m during the year (2010: £119.4m), £76m on our existing estate and nearly £100m on new developments, all funded from operating cash flow
- Performance through the year underlines Merlin’s continued development as an international, high-growth, family entertainment business with iconic brands
- Good performance across all three Operating Groups: Midway Attractions,LEGOLAND Parks and Resort Theme Parks
- Establishment of Merlin’s biggest ever new attraction with successful opening of LEGOLAND Florida in October – marking Merlin’s move into the world’s largest family tourist market
- Record-breaking number of Midway openings with seven attractions launched, across 4 countries, including two within the iconic Blackpool Tower Complex
- Resort Theme Parks strengthened with investment in new roller coasters in Heide Park in Germany and Gardaland in Italy
- Successful first year of operations in Australia with revenues and profits ahead of expectations, following the acquisition of the Sydney Attractions Group; further move into the Asia Pacific market with announcement of plans to acquire Living & Leisure Australia with businesses in Australia, South Korea, Thailand and China
- Strong schedule of new attractions planned through 2012 including the opening of LEGOLAND Malaysia and the LEGOLAND Windsor Hotel; six new Midway attractions in four countries and new rides at Thorpe Park, Alton Towers and LEGOLAND Billund
- By the end of the year, Merlin will have 94 attractions across four continents
- Current trading in line with expectations
“Last year was the most exciting in the history of Merlin Entertainments as we delivered a further step-change in the performance of the business, while significantly extending our international profile. The highlights have included the hugely successful opening of LEGOLAND Florida, the addition of a whole new leg of the business as we bedded in our new Australian businesses and identified a second acquisition to add to them, and our most ambitious ever opening plans with seven new Midway attractions added across our five brands. At the same time, we continued to invest in our existing estate with thrilling rides like Raptor in Italy and Krake in Germany. Our determination to deliver unforgettable experiences for our customers worldwide led to a 13.2% increase in visitor numbers – meaning we welcomed over 5 million visitors more than ever before, even against the backdrop of the tough economy.
“Merlin now operates 88 attractions in 19 countries across four continents, and in the year ahead we will develop the business further. This year we will open our sixth LEGOLAND Park in Malaysia, further strengthening our rapidly growing business in the Asia Pacific region; we have opened a hotel at LEGOLAND Windsor; and we will add six new Midway Attractions – three in the US, one in Japan, one in Australia and one in the UK. Our theme park fans in the UK will be thrilled by new rides with The Swarm at Thorpe Park and Nemesis Sub-Terra at Alton Towers while visitors to LEGOLAND Billund will enjoy the new Polar Land.
“Against this backdrop we approach the start of our key trading period in confident mood. While the outlook for the consumer economy remains uncertain we believe our strong brands and our relentless focus on customer satisfaction mean we will continue to provide thrilling days out for our millions of customers. We will continue to invest for growth under our proven strategy of growing our strong brands in a portfolio of attractions balanced by geography, product and demographics and we are therefore confident that Merlin will again make good progress.”
MERLIN ENTERTAINMENTS is Europe’s leading and the world’s second-largest visitor attraction operator. Merlin delivers memorable and rewarding experiences to tens of millions of visitors each year through its portfolio of iconic global and national brands. It has seen the most successful and dynamic growth of any company in its sector and now operates 88 attractions across four continents. This international expansion has been driven both through acquisition and by significant and sustained investment in its estate.
Merlin operates through three Operating Groups: LEGOLAND Parks, Resort Theme Parks and Midway Attractions, using a number of international brands including SEA LIFE, Madame Tussauds, the Dungeons, LEGOLAND and the Eye. In addition, Merlin also operates a number of leading national brands such as Thorpe Park and Alton Towers in the UK, Gardaland in Italy and Heide Park in Germany. Merlin is a privatelyowned company whose primary shareholders are the Blackstone Group, KIRKBI A/S, CVC Capital Partners, and members of the management team.
Blackstone (NYSE: BX) is one of the world’s leading investment and advisory firms. Blackstone’s alternative asset management businesses include the management of private equity funds, real estate funds, funds of hedge funds, credit-oriented funds, collateralized loan obligation vehicles, separately managed accounts and publiclytraded closed-end mutual funds. Blackstone also provides a wide range of financial advisory services, including financial and strategic advisory, restructuring and reorganization and fund placement services. Further information is available at www.blackstone.com.
KIRKBI A/S is a privately held, family-owned investment and holding company based in Billund, Denmark. Its holdings include a 75% ownership share in the LEGO Group, the remaining 25% being held by a family foundation. The LEGO Group was founded in 1932 and today the group is one of the world's leading manufacturers of play materials for children, employing approximately 10,000 people globally. The LEGO Group is committed to the development of children's creative and imaginative abilities. LEGO products can be purchased in more than 130 countries. LEGO and the LEGO logo are trademarks of The LEGO Group.
CVC Capital Partners (‘CVC’) is one of the world’s leading Private Equity and investment advisory firms. Founded in 1981, CVC now has a network of 20 offices and some 250 employees throughout Europe, Asia and the United States. CVC funds, raised from pension funds, financial institutions and various other partners, seek to identify attractive investments and then develop sustainable, long-term value in close partnership with management teams. Today, CVC manages in total over US$38 billion in funds, and is currently investing from funds with an aggregate of US$18 billion in available equity capital. In total, CVC has completed over 250 investments across a wide range of industries and countries. Today, CVC funds own 55 companies worldwide, employing approximately 400,000 people in numerous countries. Together these companies have combined annual sales of over US$127 billion. Further information is available at www.cvc.com.