Skift Take

It looks like things are starting to turn around for Merlin in its key London market. We'll have to wait until its annual results later this year for the full picture.

Theme park operator Merlin Entertainments said it is seeing early signs of recovery in the London tourism market following a series of terror attacks in the UK capital during 2017.

London is the largest market in Merlin’s Midway Attractions division, which, in turn, generated around 40 percent of the company’s 2017 annual revenue. Its brands include Madame Tussauds, Sea Life and The Dungeons.

In a business update for the 40 weeks up to October 6, Merlin said the London market “declined in the first half of the year, reflecting the continued adverse impact of the terror attacks which took place in 2017,” but that “summer trading has shown early signs of a recovery, with increasingly consistent, if modest, year-on-year growth reported in recent weeks.”

Revenue grew 4.7 percent for the year-to-date on an organic basis, which excludes growth from acquisitions but does include new business development. UK companies are no longer required to report profit and revenue figures on a quarterly basis.

Although there are a number of key trading periods for the rest of the year, Merlin said it expected its 2018 results would be “in line with market expectations.”

“Group trading has been in line with expectations, with variances by operating group reflecting the diversified nature of the portfolio,” CEO Nick Varney said.

New Brands

Part of the reason for Merlin’s revenue growth is new openings. In the period the company added 644 rooms to its growing accommodation portfolio as well as six new Midway attractions.

Merlin is also experimenting with new brands. It launched two new Midway brands — The Bear Grylls Adventure in Birmingham, UK, and Peppa Pig World of Play in Shanghai, China.

“It is too early to comment on their commercial success, which as for all new brands could take time to build, but the attractions look fantastic and we are pleased with early guest feedback,” Varney said.

Tags: earnings, merlin entertainments, security, theme parks

Photo credit: A guest meets a wax model of Prince Harry at Madame Tussauds London. Merlin Entertainments said it had seen a recovery in the London market. Merlin Entertainments