Merlin ‘confident’ as profits edge upwards

Nick Varney chief executive officer of Merlin

Nick Varney chief executive officer of Merlin

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The company which runs top attractions on the Golden Mile has reported profits up by one per cent for the first half of the year.

Merlin Entertainments posted results which showed visitor numbers up to 28 million from 27.7 million at its world wide stable of resorts and attractions.

If the current weakness in sterling persists over the medium term, it should provide support to the UK tourism market from domestic and international visitors, benefiting our attractions both in London and across the UK

Pre tax profit rose from £49m to £50m in the six months to June 25 while revenue rose from £544m to £573m.

The company, which is paying a dividend of 2.2p per share, said that its “Midway Attractions” which include the Blackpool Tower, Sea Life Centre and Madame Tussauds as well as its dungeons and Legoland Discovery Centres was doing well with 7.1 per cent revenue growth.

And it said the company could be set to benefit from a weaker pound as domestic and international visitors are encouraged to spend time in Britain rather than abroad this year.

Nick Varney, chief executive officer, said: “If the current weakness in sterling persists over the medium term, it should provide support to the UK tourism market from domestic and international visitors, benefiting our attractions both in London and across the UK.”

“Merlin has delivered a resilient performance in the first half that reflects the benefit of our diversified portfolio and strong New Business Development programme.

“Our Midway Attractions Operating Group has continued to see a challenging market in London, and Alton Towers, whilst seeing some recovery in mainstream leisure visitation, continues to experience significantly lower overall volumes.

“By contrast, and following two years of exceptional growth, our LEGOLAND Parks Operating Group has continued to build on its strong performance.

“However, 2016 has also brought some new challenges. Heightened security concerns, following attacks across Europe, have had an effect on city centre tourism, creating a challenging market and compounding an already difficult market in London.”

He said they were confident for the future and expected to benefit from the three new Lego Movies planned for the next three years and expansion in the Chinese market.