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Merlin Entertainments ‘confident’ about future despite US$878 million loss in 2020

Merlin Entertainments ‘confident’ about future despite US$878 million loss in 2020
September 29, 2021

Global attractions operator Merlin Entertainments has said it is “confident” about the future despite a pre-tax loss of US$878 million loss in the year the pandemic struck.

Releasing its 2020 accounts, the UK-based business said it welcomed 22 million visitors to its attractions last year despite the lengthy closure of many sites but advised that like-for-like revenue fell 64.2% from the previous year, to US$851 million.

Merlin is the world’s second biggest operator of visitor attractions, with brands including Legoland parks, Madame Tussauds and SEA LIFE centres.

Advising that the company “got experience of the pandemic early” as the Coronavirus spread across Asia in early 2020, Merlin Chief Executive, Nick Varney advised “when we were able to open our attractions, it became clear that there is still demand for high quality days out with family and friends, despite the restrictions imposed by social distancing.

“Our Covid-secure attractions, adopting Merlin’s best in class health and safety protocols, have allowed the public to enjoy quality time together, which after the stresses of the pandemic are so crucial to people’s mental health and wellbeing.”

Varney (pictured below) went on to advise that demand from domestic visitors was buoyed by ‘staycations’, noting “our hotels, resort theme parks and Legoland parks have benefited from the staycation impact, with those in Europe and the UK performing particularly well (while) our Sea Life centres, especially in coastal areas, also saw strong demand.”

Varney concluded “despite the many short-term challenges presented by COVID-19, we remain confident in the opportunities for the future that our diverse business has.

“On reopening we have seen surging domestic demand and we are now recovering strongly.”

Merlin was bought for US$6.35 billion in 2019 by a consortium involving Berkeley Bidco Limited, a new company jointly owned by Kirkbi, the investment vehicle of Lego’s Kirk Kristiansen family, Blackstone Core Equity Partners and Canadian pension fund CPPIB.

Images: Ride at the UK's Legoland Windsor (top), construction of the Legoland Shanghai Resort commences last month (middle) and Merlin's Nick Varney (below).

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