Terror fears, poor weather and disastrous rollercoaster accidents – Alton Towers’ owner Merlin Entertainments today reflected on a difficult year.
The company warned market conditions were “difficult” as its shares fell by four per cent.
It follows a year in which it lost millions of pounds of revenue and faces losing millions more through fines and compensation following the crash on the Smiler that left two having legs amputated.
The company runs the Midlands theme park, which recently reopened the Smiler for its new season.
It also runs national attractions including the London Eye, Madame Tussauds, Legoland and the London Dungeon. The company said it was facing challenging times financially despite recent favourable movements in foreign exchange rates.
A stronger euro is usually a boon as it boosts the spending power of overseas tourists, particularly to its London attractions, but it is understood recent attacks in Paris and Brussels have deterred visitors. The London Eye was singled out in press reports last month as a potential target for Islamist terrorists.
Panmure Gordon analyst Anna Barnfather said: “There is an avoidance of crowded places. Also the bank holidays have been wet and there was the calendar effect of an early Easter.”
The group said overall trading was “broadly in line” with expectations. The shares lost 15.5p to 415.9p.
Merlin said new rides and features opened at Alton Towers, including a rollercoaster with added virtual reality, had been well received.
It last week launched its Rollercoaster Restaurant, based close to its recently-opened Galactica ride.
Diners in the restaurant are served dishes that arrive via 400 metres of track, looping around at more than 20mph.
Merlin also said development of new accommodation was progressing well, with developments ongoing at Warwick Castle in the Midlands as well as the expansion of Legoland Deutschland Holiday Village and Chessington World of Adventures.