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Village Roadshow report rising earnings and record-breaking January period for theme parks while writing off Dreamworld as competition

Village Roadshow report rising earnings and record-breaking January period for theme parks while writing off Dreamworld as competition
February 22, 2019

Village Roadshow has reported earnings of nearly $40 million for the half year for its theme parks - Warner Bros. Movie World, Sea World and Wet'n'Wild theme parks - and a record-breaking January period.

While attendance at Village Roadshow's Gold Coast theme parks fell to 2.3 million for the six month period from July to December against 2.5 million for the prior year, yield rose significantly with half-year earnings up by 24% on last year to $39.7 million. This included $2.6 million from the recently opened Topgolf.

In Chief Executive Graham Burke's final half-year presentation for Village Roadshow - he announced earlier today his intention to retire at the end of 2019 – he contrasted the Gold Coast theme parks’ result to those of Dreamworld owners Ardent Leisure.

Burke stated “(Dreamworld's) brand is so tarnished but more the point, the quality of our experiences and what we're able to offer people in total, it is no longer a competitive factor.”

Commenting on Dreamworld’s ongoing difficulties, Burke advised “we've taken advantage of this difficult time to really get our act together. And we know that from the exit surveys we do and the promoter scores. People like our parks, they like our experiences.

"Sadly, (with Dreamworld) we used to compete in price but I believe we don't anymore."

Since late 2017, Village Roadshow has moved to a higher ticket pricing strategy for its theme parks that has ultimately resulted in a higher margin.

Village Roadshow Finance Director Julie Raffe advised “we knew at the time that we did the pricing increase that we would expect to see a reduction in admissions. We did see that however the reduction in admissions has not been as dramatic as originally anticipated.”

The positive results for the first half of the financial year look set to continue for the second half of the financial year with their Gold Coast theme parks reporting record ticket sales in January.

Raffe added “admission numbers in January and February have stayed strong. It is up on last year.”

Village have already used their improved financial position to buy outright DC Rivals HyperCoaster at a cost of $31 million, from the lease arrangement it was originally financed with.

It is expected to increase EBITDA by $5.4 million annually.

In contrast to Ardent Leisure who today backed away from future major capital expenditure at Dreamworld, Raffe reaffirmed Village Roadshow’s commitment to reinvesting in their theme parks.

Raffe went on to state “we've been much more focused on managing the [capital expenditure] for theme parks. You do need to spend on refreshing those parks. Especially with the annual pass strategy we do need to give a reason for people to keep coming back.”

With the announcement of Graham Burke's retirement, Village have announced there will be a global search for his replacement, with Clark Kirby – the current Village Roadshow Theme Parks Chief Executive - put forward as their internal candidate.

Burke put his weight behind Clark Kirby, who is the son of current Chairman Robert Kirby and grandson of Village Roadshow founder Roc Kirby.

Burke stated "Clark is my preferred candidate ... I know he's proven himself with running our biggest business and the pricing strategy he designed.

"The business that we're in is all about show business, it's all about selling tickets, it's all about beating the drum and getting people through the turnstile."

"Clark is driven, he's got a worm within him that is restless to sell tickets."

Images: Movie World's DC Rivals HyperCoaster (top) and Clark Kirby (below).

Related Articles

22nd February 2019 - Ardent Leisure losses rise as guests fail to return to Dreamworld

18th January 2019 - Topgolf development plans halted following indifferent performance of first Australian venue

31st December 2018 - accesso and Village Roadshow Theme Parks partnership to deliver enhanced guest experiences

15th December 2018 - Animal activists disrupt Sea World dolphin and seal shows

14th December 2018 - Sea World launches new attraction for peak summer season

13th December 2018 - Warner Bros. Movie World launches Aquaman exhibition

26th November 2018 - Village Roadshow Theme Parks launches Australian Outback Spectacular’s Heartland

14th November 2018 - Village Roadshow Theme Parks set to launch its biggest Summer Ever

11th October 2018 - Parques Reunidos completes Wet’n'Wild Sydney acquisition

20th September 2018 - Movie World launches new climb attraction on Southern Hemisphere’s tallest HyperCoaster

23rd August 2018 - Village Roadshow blames Commonwealth Games and Dreamworld deaths for disappointing results

30th July 2018 - Clark Kirby outlines vision for Topgolf’s Australian expansion

28th May 2018 - Sea World Whale Watch spots 2018 season’s first whale

17th February 2018 - Village Roadshow reveals ‘incredibly disappointing’ results for Wet’n'Wild Sydney

22nd December 2017 - Village Roadshow sells Gold Coast land but theme parks to remain

7th April 2017 - Village Roadshow changes see Clark Kirby appointed Theme Parks division Chief Executive

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