Madame Tussauds-owner Merlin blames attacks for dip in summer trade
Britain’s Merlin Entertainments <MERL.L>, operator of tourist attractions such as Madame Tussauds waxworks, blamed a series of attacks in the UK and unfavourable weather for a dip in trading in its key summer period.
The group said on Tuesday that trading in recent weeks had remained mixed and group like for like revenue growth for 2017 was now expected to be “approximately flat” on 2016.
It forecast core earnings in the range of 470 million pounds to 480 million pounds.
Analysts were previously forecasting 490 million pounds, according to Reuters data.
For the 40 weeks to Oct. 7 Merlin said group like-for-like revenue was up just 0.3 percent, reflecting difficult summer trading at its Midway London attractions and European theme parks, where like-for-like revenue fell 1.0 percent and 2.1 percent respectively.
“The spate of terror attacks witnessed in the UK marked an inflection point in Midway London and UK theme park trading,” said Chief Executive Nick Varney.
“Poor weather in Northern Europe and extreme weather in Italy and Florida also impacted peak season trading.”
Merlin said it would reallocate capital investment to address the ongoing volatile market environment and underlying cost pressures.
It plans to reduce existing estate capex by 100 million pounds over the 2018-21 period, which will fund accelerated investment in accommodation and the firm’s “Productivity Agenda”.
Merlin’s total revenue growth was 12.4 percent at actual exchange rates and 5.9 percent at constant currency rates, driven by new business development, including the opening of LEGOLAND Japan, five new Midway attractions, and 381 new accommodation rooms.
“Whilst it is too early to predict the outlook for 2018, it is likely that the recent trends experienced in London will persist for the foreseeable future,” Merlin said.
(Reporting by James Davey, Editing by Paul Sandle)