Roaring visitor numbers boost Longleat

Wednesday, 16th May 2012

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Longleat Enterprises, which includes the safari park, Cheddar Gorge and two hotels bought from the Von Essen group, has reported a 14 per cent sales increase in its latest results.

For the year to 31 December 2011, Longleat Enterprises reported revenues of £17.8m, up from £15.6m in 2010.

The company said there had been a 5 per cent increase on visitors to the Cheddar Caves attraction at Cheddar Gorge, which had led to a 7 per cent increase in revenue and a 32 per cent rise in trading profits.

Warminster-based Longleat, which includes the safari park, an adventure park and the 16th century Longleat House, had a 10 per cent increase in visitor numbers and an 11 per cent increase in revenue.

But because of higher costs for staffing, marketing and professional fees, as well as depreciation, profits fell at Longleat reduced by 16 per cent. For the group as a whole, pre-tax profit fell from £2.2m in 2010 to £2m.

Longleat Safari Park was opened in April 1966 and was the first of its kind outside of Africa. The safari park featured on BBC TV programme Animal Park between 2000 and 2009.

The chairman of Longleat Enterprises is Viscount Weymouth, the son of the Marquess of Bath, who took over from his father in 2010. Lord Bath, who is the 7th Marquess of Bath, is a life tenant of Longleat House.

During 2011, Longleat Enterprises acquired two hotels from the Von Essen chain – Homewood Park in Bath and Bishopstrow House in Warminister. From the period following the acquisition until 31 December 2011, the company said both hotels made a trading loss.

Longleat Enterprises added that both hotels will be undergoing “extensive” refurbishment and are expected to make a profit for the 2012 year.

The company said it would continue “substantial investment in new attractions” in 2012 which it expects will increase visitor numbers and profitability.

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