Merlin on bumpy ride in Thailand as political unrest upsets Siam Ocean World and Madame Tussauds trading

Kasmira Jefford
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Merlin, which owns Legoland has been hit by unrest in Thailand
Legoland and Alton Towers operator Merlin Entertainments warned yesterday that its two attractions in Bangkok were still suffering from poor trading after months of political unrest and a military coup in Thailand.

The world’s second-largest amusement park operator after Disney said that while the rest of its Midway portfolio performed well, its Siam Ocean World and Madame Tussauds in Bangkok showed “little sign of improvement” and continued to drag on growth.

Thailand has been under martial law since May when the military seized power following six months of anti-government protests and bloodshed, hurting the tourism industry.

However, despite troubles in Thailand, Merlin said it had traded well since the summer, thanks to an “exceptional” performance across its Legoland parks and the success of the Lego Movie last year.

Its Resort Theme Parks division, which includes Chessington World of Adventures, has also seen like-for-like sales growth improve in recent months thanks to Halloween and the mild autumn weather in the UK.

It expects to deliver earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of between £407m and £411m for 2014, its first full year as a listed company.

“While there is still some significant trading to come, we are confident in delivering a strong full-year result,” chief executive Nick Varney said.

Shares in Merlin have risen 20 per cent since its flotation in November last year, when it began trading at 315p. They closed up 2.8 per cent to 381.5p yesterday, valuing the FTSE 250 company at £3.8bn.

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