Virtual reality entertainment group reports expansion and stronger trading

Immotion Group, the Salford-based virtual reality entertainment specialist, says first quarter trading has been more than double that of the previous year, as it revealed expansion of its operations in the US and UK, including a Manchester site.

In a trading update, ahead of the release of its annual results on April 26, the group said first quarter revenue of around £2m is more than double the £0.8m in 2021. Its location based entertainment (LBE) revenue was approximately £1.8m, against £0.6m in the same period last year.

March revenue of around £1m was bolstered by the US spring break and increased capacity at its Mandala Bay installation.

Subject to final audit, Immotion expects its underlying financial results for 2021 to be EBITDA of circa £0.9m on a total revenue of £9.4m.

The business has expanded operations during the year with the signing of new partner sites in the core LBE division, involving a total of 24 new seats.

New sites are:

  • Akron Zoo, Ohio, USA – Immotion has put a six-seat installation into Akron Zoo. The attraction will open on April 16, 2022.
  • Seattle Aquarium, Washington, USA – Started operations in late March.
  • Sea Life Manchester – Manchester now joins the fold of installations in Sea Life venues, with six seats in a new three-year deal.
  • New Aquarium site USA. The company has signed and completed the installation this week of a new six seat mini theatre, with operations scheduled to begin later this month, subject to state certification, under a three-year contract. The site cannot be named until state certification is received.
  • Sea Life London – In addition to these new signings, Sea Life London, one of the group’s top sites, has signed a new three-year deal, which will see the number of seats further expanded to 16 in a themed, mini theatre-style installation. Once complete this should take Immotion into the peak summer period with double the capacity of last year.

Including the increased capacity at Odysea Aquarium and Shark Reef Aquarium, located inside Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in the US, this will bring the total number of new seats installed in 2022 to 42.

Following these installations, the company will have 402 headsets operational across 49 sites.

Following the launch of its Gorilla Trek immersive experience at IAAPA in November last year, Immotion is at an advanced stage of negotiations with a number of major zoos and says it will announce “some significant additional zoo signings” in the coming weeks.

Chief executive, Martin Higginson, said: “Delivering EBITDA of circa £0.9m on revenue of £9.4m compared to revenue of £2.8m and an EBITDA loss of £1.7m in 2020 shows the progress the company has made.

“Trading in the first quarter of this year, especially in our Location Based Entertainment business, has been very encouraging. With unaudited group revenues for the first quarter of 2022 more than double that of the same period last year we are poised for further solid year on year growth. It is great to be adding a further 24 headsets to the portfolio and to be hitting the 400 headset mark.”

He added: “The roll-out of our Gorilla Trek experience into zoo partners is well under way, and with several sizeable theatre style installations in the wings we are confident the zoo market and other prospects will help us move closer towards the 500 headset mark.”

Rod Findley, group commercial director said: “With our aquarium offering we have carved ourselves a category in which we believe we are the market leader.

“Our immersive films offer our partners the ability to both educate and entertain their customers in a new and unique way, while driving significant additional revenue for them. We are excited to be rolling this model out into the global zoo market.”

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