Nightmare not over yet
Townsville ARDENT Leisure has said it will take at least another year for its Dreamworld theme park to recover from an accident that killed four people there in 2016.
Chief executive Simon Kelly, who took the helm at the entertainment group in July, said experts had conducted exhaustive operational and safety reviews at Dreamworld since last October’s accident on the Thunder River Rapids ride.
“We’re very confident that today Dreamworld is one of the safest theme parks in the world,” Mr Kelly said yesterday.
“We expect recovery of the park will take around two years ( from last October) and is largely on track.”
The Gold Coast park and adjoining WhiteWater World were closed for 45 days following the accident and, when Dreamworld reopened, visitor numbers plunged.
Ardent yesterday said it expected core earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of $ 76 million for its full year when it releases its results on August 31 – slightly ahead of its guidance range of $ 73 million to $ 75 million.
But the Dreamworld closure and drop in visitors is likely to reduce group revenue by nearly 15 per cent to $ 586 million.
Ardent said its theme parks operations likely suffered a 34 per cent fall in revenue to $ 70.9 million and an earnings loss of $ 3.4 million.
It said the group- wide earnings lift was driven by a betterthan- expected finish to the financial year at its US- based Main Event bowling, gaming and dining centres.
Main Event revenue rose 30 per cent to $ US226.2 million ($ 288.1 million) as new centres opened, but despite the revenue increase, earnings lifted only 5.6 per cent and margins fell.
Revenue for Ardent’s bowling and entertainment centres in Australia fell 2.2 per cent to $ 127.7 million, impacted by the closure of Melbourne’s Kingpin Crown for renovation.
Mr Kelly said Main Event’s results were disappointing, and Dreamworld had faced challenging trading since reopening but was on the path to recovery.
“From my relatively early days in the business, it is clear that there are many opportunities for us to do better,” he said.
The Ardent Leisure board can expect to face rebel shareholders calling for a board spill at a meeting set for September 4.
Investor Gary Weiss and property developer Kevin Seymour, who own about 10 per cent of the company between them, claim the group has “lost its way”.
Mr Kelly said he welcomes input from all shareholders.