The owner of Madame Tussauds and Alton Towers has unveiled a deal to roll out new Peppa Pig attractions worldwide as it revealed the impact of recent terror attacks on trading in the UK.
Merlin Entertainments has struck an agreement with Entertainment One – which owns the rights to the popular children’s cartoon character – to develop new attractions and themed accommodation based on the pre-school favourite.
But the deal does not cover the UK, where there is already Peppa Pig World at Paultons Park in Hampshire under a long-standing agreement, and also excludes China.
Details of the agreement come as Merlin’s latest trading figures confirmed the hit from terrorist attacks on UK attractions in the peak summer months, which left group like-for-like revenue growth almost grinding to a halt, edging up 0.3% in the 40 weeks to October 7.
Poor weather across the UK and Northern Europe and extreme weather in Italy and Florida were also to blame, according to Merlin.
Nick Varney, chief executive of Merlin Entertainments, said: “After strong early-season momentum across most of our businesses, we have experienced difficult trading over the summer period, as the spate of terror attacks witnessed in the UK marked an inflection point in Midway London and UK theme park trading. ”
Its London attractions saw a marked drop-off in visitor numbers after the recent spate of attacks, while the group’s theme parks also suffered in a “difficult” market after the UK’s threat level was raised.
Figures showed like-for-like revenues fell 2.1% across its theme parks worldwide in the 40 weeks so far of its financial year, with sales down 1% for midway attractions, although Legoland parks notched up growth of 3.4%.
Merlin said the deal with Entertainment One will see the first new Peppa Pig attractions open within existing resorts in 2018, with a standalone attraction due to open in 2019.
It is also launching a new adventure-based attraction with TV’s survival expert Bear Grylls.
The first Bear Grylls Adventure attraction will open in Birmingham next year.
It comes after Merlin last week denied takeover talks with SeaWorld following reports suggesting it had approached the group.