Madame Tussauds owner set to reveal effects of pound collapse on visitor numbers


Madame Tussauds owner Merlin Entertainments is expected to give an indication next week of whether the collapse in sterling has resulted in an increase of tourists coming to the UK and visiting its attractions.

The group - which also operates Alton Towers, Legoland and the London Eye - will issue a trading update on Tuesday.

Graham Spooner, investment research analyst at The Share Centre, said: "The market will be very interested to see if the weak pound since June has led to an increase in tourists coming to the UK, especially to the group's major attractions such as Madame Tussauds in London."

The pound's fall against the dollar, the euro and all other major currencies since the June 23 vote to quit the European Union has led to an anticipation of a rise in tourist spending.

In September, the firm flagged that it is yet to see a boost from the Brexit-hit pound, and City analysts expect Merlin to have seen little uptick - with official data showing that while visitor numbers have increased, tourist spending has declined.

Jaafar Mestari, analyst at JP Morgan, said: "We will be mostly looking out for qualitative comments on the Halloween trading period.

"UK inbound tourism data from the ONS continues to show no marked improvement overall, with volumes up 1.1% but spend per trip down 6.9% in September."

Mr Mestari expects the firm to record a 1.3% increase in like-for-like sales in 2016 as it recovers from last year's Smiler rollercoaster crash.

Merlin was fined £5 million earlier this year after admitting health and safety breaches in relation to the incident in which five people were seriously injured, including two teenagers who each lost a leg.

Alton Towers made up 70 staff redundant following a review of the business in the aftermath of the crash.

Mr Spooner added that there will "inevitably be a focus on how Alton Towers is performing given the recent fine relating to the serious accident last year".

To compound matters, the group warned in September that recent terrorist attacks across Europe have hit demand for its London attractions.