Sodden summers hit Blackpool Pleasure Beach in the pocket

THE appalling summer weather in the last two years is taking a toll on Blackpool Pleasure Beach, with rain discouraging visitors to the popular tourist attraction.

Despite its £9m investment in a new attraction Nickleodeon Land in 2011 the family-owned leisure company said it had missed visitor targets in the financial year ended April 1 2012, and warned of a similar impact for last year.

Results for Blackpool Pleasure Beach Holdings – which includes the main theme park, hotel and the South Shore Mutual Insurance Company- show that despite 7% growth in turnover to £31.6m, the group made a bottom-line loss of £524,000 compared with a profit of £329,000 in 2011.

Managing director Amanda Thomson – whose great-grandfather William Bean opened the park in 1896 – says in her business review, that while visitor numbers rose, they had not met expectations, and customers had also spent less than in the previous year.

“The first year’s operation of Nickleodeon Land resulted in an increased volume of visitors to Pleasure Beach and an enhancement to their visitor experience.

“The directors consider that the extent to which the increase in visitor numbers and average spend per head was less than budget partially reflects the difficult economic climate. Since weather during the key 2011 season was materially worse than that of the 2010 season, this is considered to be the main reason for the shortfall in sales compared to budget.”

As a consequence of sales being £1.6m lower than hoped-for, and with  overheads increasing, Pleasure Beach  – the largest part of the group – saw losses widen by £400,000 to £1.8m.

Conditions did not improve in 2012, and the wettest summer in 100 years meant that the attraction has again seen visitor numbers fail to meet targets.

Mrs Thompson said: “The terrible weather in April, June and July resulted in a shortfall in budget takings of around £1.6m, most of which fell directly to the bottom line.”

A cost cutting exercise is currently underway, and the group is expects to make an operating loss in the current financial year of £500,000, compared with a £14,000 operating profit in 2012.

Investment in the attraction is continuing though and a £3.75m Wallace & Gromit-themed ride is due to open in the Spring. A government loan of £2m is part-funding the project.