Merlin Entertainments welcomes record visitor figures in 2017 | News

Merlin Entertainments saw visitor numbers hit a record 66 million at its attractions last year, a rise of 3.5 per cent over the previous year.

Despite a challenging environment, the company reported a 4.8 per cent rise in annual pre-tax profits to £271 million.

Revenue at the company – which counts Alton Towers, Legoland, and Madame Tussauds among its attractions – was up by 11.6 per cent to almost £1.6 billion for 2017.

Nick Varney, chief executive of Merlin Entertainments, said: “A year that started well with positive momentum in almost every part of the group was ultimately defined by the unprecedented spate of terror attacks in the UK and poor to extreme weather throughout the summer season in Europe.

“Despite this, thanks to the efforts of our extraordinary team, we have reported overall growth in revenue, profit and cash flow, welcoming 66 million visitors – our highest on record.

“Against a difficult trading backdrop, we continued to make good strategic progress.”

Merlin announced plans in October to open a Legoland park in New York State in 2020, and the launch of two new IP based attraction formats – The Bear Grylls Adventure and Peppa Pig.

Varney added: “Furthermore, we were motivated throughout 2017 to review our approach to capital allocation and reflect upon recent performance which has fallen short of our expectations in some areas.

“This has resulted in a number of medium term adjustments – most notably the reduction in Midway and Resort Theme Parks existing estate capital expenditure which will be reallocated towards our highly successful accommodation roll out and increased focus on the productivity agenda costs.

“Merlin continues to evolve and, with attractive market fundamentals and the right strategy in place, we remain highly confident in the long term prospects for the business.”

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