Tourism

Temporary theme park closures lead to $136.6m loss for Ardent Leisure

Huntley Mitchell

Huntley Mitchell

Ardent Leisure has reported a $136.6 million loss for the last financial year, with the COVID-induced closure of its Aussie theme parks and Main Event centres significantly drying up revenue.

Total revenue for the group fell 17.6 per cent to $398.3 million in the 12 months to 30 June 2020 due to the temporary closure of Dreamworld, WhiteWater World and SkyPoint, as well as Main Event centres, in response to government-imposed social distancing and other measures to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Ardent Leisure noted that the revenue drop was partially offset by a 1.9 per cent increase in Main Event constant centre revenue and “encouraging signs of recovery” in attendance and revenue growth for its theme parks prior to the emergence of coronavirus, as well as incremental revenue from new Main Event centres.

The company managed to strengthen its capital position in FY20 following the US$80 million investment from RedBird Capital Partners for Main Event and $69.9 million in financial assistance from the Queensland government for its theme parks.

Ardent Leisure chairman Dr Gary Weiss said the emergence of COVID-19 in the second half of the financial year had a significant impact on the group’s businesses.

“While positive progress had been achieved by Main Event and theme parks in the first eight months of the year, our focus turned to capital management and securing capital for the businesses as the COVID-19 pandemic escalated,” he said.

Thanks to the funding boosts from RedBird Capital and the Queensland government, Weiss said Ardent Leisure has started FY21 in a “strengthened” financial position.

“We are excited by the opportunity to partner with RedBird Capital and look forward to drawing on their experience and expertise as we continue to drive Main Event’s growth and expansion plans,” he said.

“For our theme parks division, we are appreciative to the Queensland government for their ongoing support of the industry.

“The financial assistance package provided by the Queensland government will enable us to reopen Dreamworld and Whitewater World and continue to employ hundreds of people, directly and indirectly.”

While Ardent Leisure anticipates “uncertain and challenging conditions” to continue in FY21, Weiss said the company is confident that demand for out-of-home family entertainment experiences will be “stronger than ever” once the pandemic has subsided and restrictions have eased.

“Our guests and team members can be confident we have implemented the highest levels of cleaning and safety standards across our businesses,” he said.

It’s been a rocky year for Ardent Leisure, with the company pleading guilty to three charges over the 2016 Dreamworld tragedy last month, as well as being hit with a shareholder class action in connection with the incident in June.

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