Alton Towers parent Merlin Entertainments says resort theme parks declines "narrowed", months after Smiler crash


Trading has been "significantly below" last year (Source: Getty)

Alton Towers parent company Merlin Entertainments is on track for full year results in line with expectations, as declines in its resort theme parks division start to narrow. 

The business said trading at its flagship theme park "remained significantly below the prior year", but there had been an improvement in trading more recently thanks to a "temporary change in product and customer mix during the Halloween period".

Last week, an investigation revealed that "human error" had been behind the Smiler crash earlier this year, in which 16 people were injured, two of whom had life-changing injuries. 

Like-for-like revenues at Midway Attractions, which includes the likes of Madame Tussauds and The Dungeons, has remained "at lower levels", on the back of challenging markets in London and Hong Kong, although this has ben partly offset by strong performances in the rest of Asia.

The Legoland division is still driving much of the business' growth, thanks to "an excellent Halloween period". Merlin expects this arm to contribute to "a strong margin performance" for the year. 

In the 47 weeks to 21 November, accommodation has performed well, as have its two continental European resorts, including Italian park Gardaland. This division is on track to deliver EBITDA of between £40m-£45m.

"While some significant trading days remain, including peak season trading for our attractions in Australia and New Zealand, Merlin expects to report full year results in line with current expectations, with underlying profit before tax broadly in line with the 2014 result," the company said. 

Merlin will report its 2015 Preliminary results on 25 February 2016.