UK theme parks from another point of view!

 
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Swarm Chris
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Re: Merlin General Discussion

Thu Feb 28, 2019 11:03 pm

Well I'm surprised to see that restriction already declared. I can understand being cautious in reallocating funds back to a division that happened to have a single good year. But do they not realise how this particular division is reliant on investment to have a better year?

Six Flags and Cedar Fair both have similar sized revenues to Merlin. Both of these are adding new world class attractions on a frequent basis. The resort parks are stagnating at best, and regressing in Thorpe's case, without development.

I wonder what the Merlin strategy is when they've finally installed a copy and paste Madame Tussaud's, Legoland or Lego Discovery Centre into every major city across the world? Or filled all their development areas with overpriced empty hotel rooms?
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lewis97
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Re: Merlin General Discussion

Thu Feb 28, 2019 11:26 pm

Given that Merlin are reporting notably high growth in the RTP division, which appears to be driven by accommodation, I don’t think the trend of adding new hotels will be changing anytime soon, as it’s delivering desirable results as far as Merlin are concerned.

There is a distinction to be made between operating and capital expenditure, with the slide posted above referring to existing estate capex remaining at lower levels. This therefore concerns the amount of money Merlin are willing to put into new attractions, rather than being associated with the reduced operating budgets that the last few years have seen. That “cost-cutting” is covered by the more investor-friendly named ‘productivity agenda’, which was referred to elsewhere in the presentation (and has been a feature of Merlin’s strategy for the last couple of years now). If I understood what was said correctly, existing attractions across the group had been set a target of keeping any increase in operating costs year-on-year to less than 3%.

Despite making the cutbacks in the above areas, Merlin are still claiming to have seen positive movements in their guest satisfaction measures, so again there wouldn’t seem to be any immediate motivation to change strategy. I think Nick Varney did say that an area that wanted to improve was around value for money where they currently rank “poor or very poor” though.

For as long as Merlin can produce growth from the RTPs, I can’t imagine they’d give any serious thought to selling them off. In the UK especially, they are a key part of their portfolio and presence, with the Merlin Annual Pass deriving most of it’s value from them. I can’t say I know much about the leasing situation with a number of Merlin’s UK sites, but I imagine with these being decades long there would be some sort of provision in there for Merlin to exit, or transfer responsibility to a new operator if they so wished.
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Swarm Chris
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Re: Merlin General Discussion

Fri Mar 01, 2019 6:24 pm

Another overview of yesterday's results from Nick Varney.



To follow up on Lewis' comment that selling the resort parks in the UK being unlikely, due to them being a big part of the Merlin Annual Pass' value. I'm sure one of the reports I was reading yesterday stated the UK generated about a third or their income. If so, all of those parks are staying tied to Merlin, as the Merlin Pass has allowed them to gain a stranglehold over a lot of days-out entertainment in the UK.
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abigsmurf
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Re: Merlin General Discussion

Sun Mar 03, 2019 10:14 pm

Merlin's Parks are comparing fairly poorly, not just to cedar fair and six flags but to other parks in the UK now. 

Look at Paultons Park, a recent highly themed themed area with two modern family coasters is now getting joined by another one bringing some big white knuckle flats and a good spinning coaster. It's missing dark rides but I could easily see Paultons taking over from Chessington by 2022.

Flamingo Land is investing, Blackpool Pleasure Beach has more to come in the near future.

Merlin's new rides all seem to be coming at the expense of other, well loved rides and they're not like-for-like replacements, narrowing the parks appeal when they should broaden it.
 
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ProfBurp
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Re: Merlin General Discussion

Mon Mar 04, 2019 5:02 pm

Merlin do need to up the game, lately they seem to have been letting their parks fall to ruin, look at Thorpe....it seems like they are more keen on closing stuff and reducing their rides and even their catering offerings, rather than bring anything new. The new things they do bring, don't seem to be much more than a cheap gap-filler also, not planning ahead for the future. As it has been mentioned, Paulton's was a tiny little park with a very small ride offering, it has grown massively over the last 5-10 years and it looks fresh, welcoming and new. They are investing heavily, which is helping them to develop, however Merlin are not learning from their mistakes and seem to be focusing too much attention on their midway attractions, which seem to be just about everywhere now too anyway!

I know nothing about financial things, as a new attraction obviously costs a great deal of money and this needs to be spread evenly amongst the business, but from an outsiders point of view, Merlin needs to stop opening new attractions and focus on the portfolio they already have! I wouldn't be surprised if they try to sell one of their attractions in the near future.

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