Merlin Entertainments reveals strong 2011 performance

Merlin Entertainments has reported a double-figure rate of growth for 2011, with profits of £222.5 million being recorded for the British company.

The 12.4% rise on the same period for last year was described by the company as representing “strong and resilient growth in turnover and profitability, delivered against a tough economic backdrop.”

Visitor numbers also rose by 13.2% to 46.4 million guests according to Merlin’s annual report, which was published today.

However, the company retains a large and rising amount of debt, with a deficit of £1.2 billion being recorded – up from £1 billion in 2010.

Merlin operates four theme parks in the UK, including Alton Towers and Thorpe Park, as well as a number of what it calls ‘midway’ attractions such as Sea Life Centres, The Dungeons and Madame Tussauds.

They are currently expanding their operations overseas, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.

Chief executive Nick Varney said: “Last year was the most exciting in the history of Merlin Entertainments as we delivered a further step-change in the performance of the business, while significantly extending our international profile.”

Merlin planned a £2 billion stock market flotation in 2010, but withdrew the plan following turmoil in the market.

Of the plans to become a public company eventually, Varney said: “We keep our options open on that. But the most likely timing is 2014.”