Merlin Entertainments enjoyed strong and resilient growth in the face of the global downturn, according to its latest set of financial results, released this month.
The results, for the year to December 26, 2009, show that the world’s number two attraction operator witnessed a 9.7% increase in visitors as it continues to open new “Midway” attractions and improve the performance of its existing outlets with new rides and “destination” positioning.
In total, Merlin’s global portfolio of parks and attractions entertained 38.5 million visitors, up 3.4 million. Group revenue increased 16.1% to £769 million ($1.15bn/€843m), with ongoing EBITDA up 16.6% to £238.6 million. This was the ninth consecutive year of double digit EBITDA growth among Merlin’s core businesses. Leverage in the private-equity-backed business reduced to just over 4 times from just over 5 times.
Capital investment during the year was £101.2 million ($151bn/€111m), with new Midway attractions including Madame Tussauds Hollywood, Sea Life Porto in Portugal and the re-launch of the London Aquarium as the SEA LIFE London Aquarium.
“This is a unique business, with a clear strategic vision and the management team and resources to deliver it,” believes Merlin CEO, Nick Varney. “These results demonstrate the resilience of our business model and are the product of continued investment in the business over the past decade.”