A bumper first year as a public limited company has seen Merlin Entertainments grow its pre-tax profits by 33 per cent to £186m and will mean further investment in Blackpool.
The company is set to unveil a whole new raft of characters at the Madame Tussauds attraction on the Prom, a global shark project at its Sea Life Centre and is set to mark the forthcoming 120th birthday of Blackpool Tower in style this May.
In a landmark year for the leisure operator, the Poole- headquartered company floated on the stock market in November and invested £95m across its estate of sites.
Visitor numbers rose 11 per cent to 59.8 million generating revenues of £1.2bn for the year up to December 2013 – 10.7 per cent up on the previous year.
Ian Hawkins, head of Merlin’s Blackpool cluster said: “The company overall is looking for a spectacular year in 2014 and it will involve investment in Blackpool.
“In May we will be unveiling a new fascia for the Tower to celebrate its 120th birthday and will be having a series of activities throughout May and June to celebrate.
“Madame Tussauds will be getting lots of new figures, including Darcey Bussell, some new soap stars and some high profile figures not seen in Blackpool which we are yet to announce. At the Sea Life Centre we have, in half term, just opened our Octopus Hideout exhibition and at Easter we will be launching our new shark mission, a global campaign. While there will be a whole series of new exhibitions and attractions world wide in 2014, part of our key strategy is to invest in our existing attractions such as those in Blackpool so that they will continue to attract people back. We have to maintain the magic.”
Nick Varney, chief executive officer at Merlin, said of the company’s maiden stock market results: “Merlin Entertainments made further substantial progress in 2013.
“We delivered our fourteenth year of strong growth, with continued delivery from our existing estate, underpinned by the ongoing rollout of our unique portfolio of leisure brands internationally.”
The company this week announced it was teaming up with DreamWorks to launch a new attraction brand, Shrek’s Far Far Away Adventure in London in summer 2015.