New strategy chief appointed at theme park firm

Dorset based Merlin Entertainments has appointed a new chief strategy officer.

The firm, which owns more than 140 visitor attractions including Alton Towers,  announced the appointment of Linda Zou.

She will report directly to chief executive Scott O’Neil and will work closely with the rest of the executive leadership team in designing and executing the company’s strategic vision and driving the continued growth of Merlin’s strong brand portfolio.

Zou joins the Poole based firm from Boston Consulting Group (BCG), where she was a managing director and partner in London.

While at BCG, she led the development and execution of business strategy, commercial transformations, proposition design, and artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced analytics programmes for leading consumer companies in the UK, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Prior to joining BCG in 2013, Linda worked in global health and set up large-scale health programmes in southern Africa.

Scott O’Neil said: “As Merlin transforms into a premium positioned, innovative and data driven company focused on driving enterprise value, we will continue building capabilities to be world class in dynamic pricing, optimising trade, exploring the future of branded accommodation, maximising retail opportunities and investing in technology to drive efficiencies.

“Linda is the perfect executive to lead our organic growth plans and ambitious plans and trajectory. Linda is intellectually curious, a driving force of will and has proven to be an extraordinary teammate. She will be an instant value add to Merlin as she brings a wealth of experience and expertise in strategy, innovation, and transformation in the retail and travel sectors which translates directly into our business and allows her to hit the ground running. This is an exciting time to be at Merlin and it just got better with Linda coming onto the scene.”

Linda Zou said: “This is a dynamic time for the leisure and entertainment industry. Customer sentiment and tourism patterns are evolving. New technologies bring new opportunities for innovative guest experiences. Advanced analytics tools can make it easier for frontline teams to respond effectively to the market. I am excited about the opportunities ahead for Merlin, as we bring more data-driven insight to enhance our guest experience, strengthen our core commercial capabilities across the portfolio, and expand our avenues for growth. Merlin has a fantastic set of assets and a passionate, experienced team, and I look forward to working with Scott, the Executive team, and broader Merlin community to grow our brands and bring memorable experiences to even more guests around the world.”

Zou will spearhead key programmes to accelerate growth and improve effectiveness within the core business. She will also lead the business in building industry-leading, future-fit capabilities in core functions.


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