Alton Towers owner “cautious” about UK attractions

The National Sea Life Centre in Birmingham is one of Merlin Entertainments' tourist attractions

Merlin Entertainments, the owner of Alton Towers and Legoland, is “cautious” about the performance of its UK attractions this summer.

This outlook was “reflecting the recent terror attacks”, but it said it was making good progress across most of its businesses.

New attractions and accomodation, and favourable currency movements, helped deliver a 19% rise in revenue, to £685m. Its new Legoland park in Japan has already welcomed half-a-million visitors while in the last month it has opened the 76-bedroom CBeebies Land Hotel at Alton Towers.

Merlin operates Madame Tussauds, Legoland and Sea Life venues around the world, while its UK attractions also include Warwick Castle, Blackpool Tower and the London Eye.

Merlin’s chief executive Nick Varney said: “We continue to be excited by the long term underlying growth prospects in our market and have the strategy in place to exploit these.

“We remain on track to meet our 2020 milestone targets, supported not only by the attractions and accommodation opened to date, but also by the progress we have made on the pipeline, in particular the ongoing development of new brands which will underpin the longer term roll out.” 

More than 70% of Merlin’s profits are generated outside of the UK, so the post-referendum weakening of Sterling has been beneficial.

However pre-tax profits were flat, at £50m. Merlin attributed this “to a number of adverse timing effects” and still expects to deliver full year profits in line with current expectations.