Merlin conjures up more visitors after UK listing

Michael Bow
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NEARLY 60m people visited attractions operated by Alton Towers owner Merlin Entertainments last year, boosting revenues by almost 11 per cent.

The visitor numbers, equivalent to the entire population of the UK, was up 10.7 per cent on 2012, with increasing numbers visiting Merlin attractions like Madame Tussauds, the Sea Life centre, Warwick Castle, Thorpe Park and Legoland in the UK.

Merlin also confirmed a tie-up with Dreamworks movie studio to open a new attraction in London next summer called Shrek’s Far Far Away Adventure, where visitors can “step into their own Shrek fairytale adventure,” it said.

It forms part of six new attractions planned between now and 2023 based on popular Dreamwork characters like Shrek. The move shows fresh momentum for the group after its London flotation by private equity backer Blackstone last year.

Pre-tax profits rose to £186m from £140m on the previous year, it reported yesterday, on revenues of £1.2bn.

“The flotation of Merlin has given us the platform for the next stage of our development and we are now better placed than ever before to continue to build this robust, diversified business,” boss Nick Varney said.

“Looking forwards, we are confident that our portfolio of attractions is well placed to take advantage of the world of opportunity ahead of us, with our pipeline of new business developments remaining as full as ever.”

Shares fell 1.62 per cent due to profit taking by investors.