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Madame Tussauds to open in Beijing, Legoland to be developed in Dubai
Merlin Entertainments is to open a Madame Tussauds attraction in Beijing, China while also developing a Legoland theme park in Dubai.
The Asian expansion by the UK-based company coincided with the release of the maiden results by the listed company which floated on the London Stock Exchange in November.
Merlin, the world's second-biggest operator of visitor attractions behind Walt Disney, currently makes over 60% of its revenue in Britain and continental Europe.
However, it wants to change that to a third for each of Europe, the Americas and the Asia Pacific over the longer term, by filling what it believes is a gap in the market in North America and tapping the growing middle-classes of emerging markets.
Pointing to global leisure spending growth of about 5% a year, Merlin Chief Executive Nick Varney stated "the future will see us putting disproportionately more effort into Asia and North America because we see huge opportunity.
"In North America the market for our type of product is pretty unexploited - nobody else has Legoland and nobody else does midway (smaller-scale) attractions.
"In Asia, there is a fast emerging middle class who have leisure time and money and want to spend it on location-based entertainment."
Merlin, which floated on the London Stock Exchange in November, posted a 12.8% rise in core earnings for 2013 US$649 million, slightly ahead of analysts' forecasts.
Merlin, with 100 attractions across four continents, will open six new attractions this year in Asia and the United States, including a Madame Tussauds next door to Beijing's Tiananmen Square and its first North American Dungeon in San Francisco.
Eight more sites will open in 2015, including a trio of attractions in Orlando in the United States, and the first of six 'Shrek' attractions, following a recent partnership with Dreamworks Animation's to launch six sites based on the movie franchise.
Varney told reporters the firm was considering moves into Latin America and India in the longer term, and that it hoped to buy the Singapore Flyer observation wheel out of administration in the next two months.
New Legoland theme park sites are set for Dubai in 2016 and in South Korea and Japan in the following three years.
8th November 2013 - LEGOLAND DUBAI TO OPEN IN 2016
8th July 2013 - AECOM STRENGTHENS ITS POSITION IN ASIA’S LEISURE INDUSTRY
1st April 2011 - VILLAGE ROADSHOW TO DEVELOP CHINA THEME PARKS
8th November 2010 - DISNEY SIGNS AGREEMENT FOR SHANGHAI THEME PARK
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