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Strong 2010 Results for Merlin Group

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Saturday, 2nd April 2011 By Chris Bennett

Alton Towers owner, Merlin Entertainments saw a 2.5 million increase in visitor numbers across its attractions in 2010.

Merlin, which also runs Thorpe Park, Chessington World of Adventures, Warwick Castle and the London Eye in addition to the Madame Tussauds, Legoland, Dungeons and Sea Life brands, said visitor numbers increased by 6.5% to 41 million in 2010.

Chief executive Nick Varney said: "Even in recessions we see that people still want stand-out days out or short breaks to give them a memorable experience. People cut the two week foreign holiday or the home improvement, but come the summer holidays they still want to take the kids on a nice day out. In good times and bad times people need an escape."

The group this week announced a strong set of results for 2010 despite the recession. Revenues for the year increased 4.1% to £800.8m across its UK and international operations and underlying profits (EBITDA) rose 8.5% to £255.8m. The company made a profit before tax of £26 million, compared to a loss of £13.7 million last year.

The group said UK sales were up 8% to £382m, while visitor numbers were up by around the same amount, helped by the opening of Legoland Discovery Centre in Manchester, the Wild Asia attraction at Chessington World of Adventures and the Th13teen ride at Alton Towers.

And there's no sign of things slowing down with Madame Tussauds Blackpool due to open later this month, followed by the redeveloped Blackpool Tower Complex in September. October 2011 will see the opening of LEGOLAND Florida (formerly Cypress Gardens), Merlin's first move into the biggest family tourist centre in the world. Existing theme park attractions Heide Park (Germany) and Gardaland (Italy) are both opening major new roller coasters this year, from Swiss manufacturer Bolliger & Mabillard.

Alton Towers attracted more than 2.7 million visitors last year, the most successful year the park has had since 1994 when Nemesis was opened.

The Merlin Entertainments group now operates over 70 attractions in 17 countries and accelerated growth plans and development across Europe, North America and the Asia Pacific region will see that figure rise to more than 80 attractions by the end of 2012.


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