York Dungeon owner upbeat on 2015

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Merlin Entertainments​, which operates attractions including Madame Tussauds waxworks​, ​Legoland, ​The York Dungeon and Scarborough Sea Life Sanctuary​, ​said it ​i​s upbeat on prospects for 2015 as it posted a better than expected rise in annual profit.

Merlin, the world’s second biggest operator of visitor attractions behind Walt Disney, said pre​-​tax profit rose 35 per​ ​cent to ​£​249​m, ahead of analysts’ average forecast of ​£​240​m.

​Like-for-like sales rose 7.1 per​ ​cent with total revenue up 9.6 per​ ​cent to ​£​1.25​bn, helped by a rise in visitors, new openings and stellar trade at its Legoland Parks on the back of “The Lego Movie” last year.

Merlin has ambitious expansion plans, with new Legoland Parks set to open in Dubai, Japan and Korea by 2017 and a raft of new short-stay sites such as Dungeons, Sea Life Centres and a new Shrek-themed attraction also slated.

“2015 is expected to be another year of growth for Merlin, with positive underlying trading and a strong new business development pipeline,” Merlin boss Nick Varney said.

Shares in the company, up a third since listing on the London stock exchange in November 2013, were up 1.8 per​ ​cent at 426.9​p this morning.