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Since Merlin’s creation in 1999, our strategic vision has been to create a high growth, high return, family entertainment company based on strong brands and a global portfolio that is naturally balanced against the impact of external factors.

Market context

Merlin operates in a fundamentally attractive market, enjoying underlying growth characteristics and favourable dynamics. Growth in global leisure and tourism spend continues to be fuelled by increasing disposable incomes in both developed and emerging economies, and ever greater value being placed upon time together with friends and family.

In developed markets, there is a shift towards shorter, more frequent breaks, which benefits city-centre Midway attractions and our theme parks as we transform them into resort destinations with themed accommodation.

With our global reach and multi-format concepts, Merlin is uniquely placed to exploit the growing opportunities to partner with leading owners of Intellectual Property content and provide additional ways in which to deliver memorable experiences.

Strategic growth drivers

We aim to achieve our strategic vision through six growth drivers:

1. Existing estate investment

Investment in the existing estate allows us to grow visitation to the attraction, provides us with something new to market, and provides a degree of pricing power. Each attraction has a planned investment cycle with varying capex levels that help to smooth overall expenditure across the portfolio and ensure investments are funded from operating free cash flow.

2. Exploiting strategic synergies

We continue to leverage the growing scale of the Group through areas such as procurement, promotional activity and technology. In doing so, we always seek to improve the customer’s experience, for example, by streamlining the guest journey on our e-commerce platforms.

3. Developing our theme parks into destination resorts

Adding on-site, themed accommodation improves guest satisfaction, increases the catchment area for our parks, and increases the level of pre-booked revenue.

4. Opening new Midway attractions

We are expanding our estate of Midway attractions, rolling out a combination of core and new brands, in both established and developing markets.

5. Opening new LEGOLAND parks

We are expanding our estate of LEGOLAND parks that we operate under three models (operated and owned, operated and leased, operated under management contract). We currently have eight LEGOLAND parks as part of Merlin's portfolio, with further parks in the US and South Korea already announced.

6. Strategic acquisitions

We operate in relatively fragmented markets, with non-natural owners of attractions. This provides opportunities for acquisitions.