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FTSE 250 visitor attractions operator Merlin Entertainments (LON:MERL) has reported a 4.9% improvement in profits before taxation for the year ended 29th December. Revenues were up by 5.9%, driven by strong performances from the group’s resort theme parks and the opening of a record number of rooms in the firm’s LEGOLAND portfolio.
CEO Nick Varney said: “We have reported further growth in 2018, with underlying EBITDA increasing by 6.2%, as we welcomed a record 67 million visitors and continued to deliver strong levels of guest satisfaction.
2018 saw improved momentum across most of our businesses reflecting the strength of our diversified portfolio and geographic spread. Resort Theme Parks benefited from successful product investment such as ‘Wicker Man’ at Alton Towers; LEGOLAND Parks growth was driven by record levels of accommodation openings; and, in addition to the contribution of seven new attractions, Midway saw improving trends in London.
We continue to seek to mitigate ongoing external cost pressures and expect to deliver up to £35 million of annualised savings by 2022 through a number of initiatives. Not only will this help underpin our financial outlook, it will better enable our people to deliver what matters most to our guests: fantastic memorable experiences.
Around the world, leisure spend continues to grow as disposable incomes rise and ever greater value is placed on good quality, shared experiences with friends and family. Our continued investment, new market opportunities and our evolving position as a unique, multi-format international operator of strongly branded and IP-led location based entertainment, give us the confidence that we are well placed to deliver long term growth and returns“.
Merlin’s share price rose by 3.2% to 363.90p (as of 15:00 GMT).