Sea Life owner snaps up County Hall attraction
Merlin Entertainments has bought the London Aquarium from County Hall Entertainment. The move makes perfect sense for Merlin, as not only does the operator own the largest aquarium brand in the world – Sea Life – but also the London Aquarium is located next to the London Eye, the group’s iconic observation wheel on the South Bank of the River Thames.
In addition to the purchase price, Merlin has negotiated a 35-year lease on the County Hall site with landlord Shirayama Shokusan Ltd. Toby Forer, who has been with Merlin since 1987, previously at Sea Life in Brighton, has since been appointed the Aquarium’s general manager.
Currently welcoming over 750,000 visitors a year, Merlin intends to invest £5 million in developing the attraction’s displays and the infrastructure in order to underline its position as a world class aquarium in the heart of the capital. Plans are in place to increase the number of interactive elements and reposition the attraction as a fun learning experience for all ages.
“We are delighted to add the London Aquarium to our portfolio of marine attractions,” says Glenn Earlam, managing director of Merlin’s’ “midway” brands. “There is no one better qualified than Merlin to operate marine attractions; and when we add the Sea Life magic we believe it will once again quickly become a must-see attraction.”
Sea Life currently attracts over 6 million visitors a year to its 28 global marine attractions.