News Column

Everything Is Awesome For Merlin Entertainment Amid LEGO Movie Craze

July 31, 2014

Rowena Harris-Doughty

LONDON (Alliance News) - Attractions and theme park operator Merlin Entertainments PLC Thursday declared its maiden interim dividend after swinging to a profit in the first half of the year, boosted by a flood of visitors through its gates.

The group said profit and revenue growth in the first-half was driven by growth from its existing estate along with the continued international roll out of its brands.

Besides that, Merlin Entertainments said profits were boosted by better weather in Northern Europe and throngs at its LEGOLAND parks, following successful promotional activity around the release of 'The LEGO Movie. It said a strong LEGOLAND performance offset a relatively weaker performance by its Midway Attractions operating group.

Merlin Entertainments reported a pretax profit of GBP29 million for the 26 weeks ended June 28, compared to a pretax loss of GBP1 million the prior year.

Revenue rose to GBP513 million, up 6.1% from GBP483 million last year, as visitor numbers in the period grew by 6.6% to 27.5 million.

The group declared a maiden interim dividend as a listed company of 2.0 pence per share, and gave a positive outlook for the remainder of the year, stating that July trading has been "consistent with its full year expectations".

"The business is well placed as we approach the main summer trading period, with the recently opened attractions such as 'CBeebies Land' at Alton Towers and 'Flight of the Demons' in Heide Park, already proving hugely popular," said Chief Executive Nick Varney in a statement.

"Merlin continues to execute on its strategic growth drivers and we anticipate delivering further progress across the group over the balance of the year," he added.

Merlin Entertainments runs more than 100 attractions in more than 22 countries, including the LEGOLAND chain of theme parks, the Madame Tussauds wax museums, and SEA LIFE aquariums.

During the period, the group relaunched its UK Merlin Annual Pass, and launched a new premium pass in the German market.

It also opened its first Dungeon attraction in North America, and announced plans to open its first LEGOLAND park in Japan in 2017, a project set to cost approximately GBP185 million.

The group said it invested GBP61 million in its existing estate in the first half, including early spend on projects for 2015.

Merlin Entertainment Shares were up 0.4% at 349.60 pence Thursday morning.

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Source: Alliance News

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