Merlin Entertainment’s latest trading update was met with a degree of consternation from the stock exchange as shares dipped on the news that the company had done little other than stay within expectations.
Citing “early signs of recovery in the London tourism market,” Merlin CEO Nick Varney was able to report an increase in visitor numbers at the London Eye, Madame Tussauds and the London Dungeon.
Whilst this was not the case in Legoland, that temporary fallow term was some-what balanced out by the London effect.
“Without any further incidents we should see London back on the growth trajectory it was before.”
Though promising tourism levels in the capital prompted Merlin to maintain its profit outlook, its Legoland parks saw revenue for the year so far decline 0.3 percent against 2017. Theme parks in the main, though, showed a 9 percent organic growth – good weather and new openings playing their part in lifting the spirits.
However, Varney was realistic: he confirmed the firm had been braced for disappointing figures after several years of strong growth derived from investment,and the successful Lego film franchise.
With a new Lego film set to be released early 2019, alongside the reopening of Merlin’s Shanghai premises, next year is expected to produce more promising results.
Anna Barnfather, leisure analyst at investment bank Liberum added that Merlin’s “very strong resort theme parks [are] offsetting disappointing performance within Legoland.”