Pound’s fall boosts Merlin profits

Blackpool Tower
Blackpool Tower
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Merlin Entertainments – the company behind Blackpool Tower, the Sea Life Centre and Madame Tussauds – has said that profits were boosted by the collapse in the value of the pound following the Brexit vote.

The firm said that sterling’s fall helped full year operating profits rise 3.6 per cent to £302 million.

Pre-tax profits rose 3.4 per cent to £259 million in the year to December 31.

“The weakening of sterling from its previously high level benefited the 2016 results in the translation of the over 70 per cent of profits we derive from other countries; notably the USA and Continental Europe,” Merlin said.

Revenue grew 11.7 per cent to £1.4 billion and the company also said it expects inbound tourism into Britain to benefit from the weaker pound. It said: “In the medium term we expect a more competitive pound to help inbound tourism to London recover and drive more ‘staycations’ from UK residents, in the same way that some of our Continental European attractions enjoyed a period of euro weakness.

“We are encouraged by recent visitation trends in our London attractions, although it is premature to declare a recovery, and we continue to plan accordingly.”

The firm also flagged that terrorism is having a “significant and immediate impact” on its business.

Boss Nick Varney said: “Ahead of entering our peak trading periods, we remain alert to geo-political uncertainties, in particular from international terrorism, which has been shown to have a significant and immediate impact on our business.”

Merlin added that it was still suffering from the Smiler rollercoaster crash at Alton Towers in 2015, for which it was fined £5 million for breaching health and safety regulations.

The group said Alton Towers saw “lower volumes” following the accident, although there are signs of a recovery.