Legoland owner Merlin Entertainment today told investors that its revenue for its London business remained down year-on-year as visitor numbers stay low following a number of terror attacks in 2017.
Merlin is responsible for a number of popular tourist spots in London, including Madame Tussauds, Sea Life London Aquariums and The Dungeons.
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In a trading update, Merlin stated:
Visitation in our London Division remains down year on year reflecting the strong trading in the comparative period and continued impact from the 2017 terror attacks.
We remain confident of a recovery over time.
Bad weather over the Easter period affected a number of its theme parks, although trading in this part of the business was in line with expectations.
Some of Merlin’s theme park brands include Thorpe Park, Legoland Windsor and Alton Towers.
Steve Clayton, manager of the Hargreaves Lansdown Select UK Growth Shares fund, which holds a 2.6 per cent stake in Merlin, admitted that the early months of the year rarely amounted to much for Merlin, due to seasonally low tourist levels.
“London tourism is still a touch depressed after the terror attacks of last year and the theme parks, which only open in mid-March, contended with awful weather when they did unbolt the doors,” he explained.
Merlin’s 2018 New Business Development programme was also said to be on track, with 644 accommodation rooms and one new attraction now open.
Merlin also reaffirmed its announcement earlier this month that it had refinanced its banking facilities, repaying £377m of Sterling and USD denominated term loans.
“The group has completed its accommodation building programme and will have an extra 644 rooms available for the summer season, and there are eight new Midway locations set to open in the year,” Clayton continued. “Banking facilities have been refinanced and extended and £377m of term debt repaid in the process.
“The group has to contend with rising labour costs and higher business rates this year, and will be hoping for better weather.
“The impact of terrorism events last year should fade over time. 2018 is set to be a year of consolidation for the group, with investments focused more on adding accommodation to venues, rather than opening brand new sites.”