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04 Mar 2019

Peppa Pig theme park potentially in the works as Varney discusses Merlin IP merits

Merlin chief Nick Varney has revealed potential plans for a theme park development dedicated entirely to Peppa Pig.

Speaking during a recent trading update conference call, the Merlin CEO discussed the power of IP at the company's portfolio of theme parks and resorts.

"Disney and Universal clearly have their own mega theme parks and their own IPs and we can all see what they are doing," said Varney.

"But there are an awful lot of brands and IP owners who don't and Merlin, I think, is perfectly placed to become the partner of choice for those companies – and it already is, as evidenced by some of their relationships we're already exploiting.

"Merlin has a track record with its own brands, like Madame Tussauds and Sea Life but it has, obviously, a very strong track record in the partner of our IPs that we have worked with, most notably Lego through the Legoland brand.

"But there are also partnerships you've seen us exploit with BBC and CBeebies' land at Alton Towers and more recently, eOne’s Peppa Pig, which is manifesting itself both in lands and existing theme parks in the Merlin estate, a new Midway brand, Peppa Pig World of Play and, potentially in the future, a bespoke Peppa Pig theme park."

Varney went on to say that the group can offer IP owners any number of options, be it lands at existing parks or, indeed, dedicated parks.

"Merlin's track record is a great recommendation – both in the fact that we are truly global, operating across four continents, and the fact that, unlike any other operator in our market, we are multi-format," he said.

"We can offer people theme parks. We can offer them theme park-branded accommodation. We can offer them Midway. And in the future, Merlin magic-making is doing a lot of work at looking at other formats that we might grow into, things for example like pop-ups, escape rooms, all things that we're actually looking at experimenting with.

"So I think that the multi-format approach that Merlin has, again, makes us a very attractive partner for a lot of IP owners."

Merlin posted positive results in 2018, including pre-tax profits of £285m (US$377m, €332m), a 4.9 per cent increase on 2017’s figures, and visitor numbers of 67 million, up from 2017’s 66 million.

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