Alton Towers marketing lock-down following crash triggers £40m profit warning for owner Merlin

Alton Towers owner Merlin Entertainment has issued a £40m profit warning after it "significantly reduced" its marketing activity ahead of the peak summer period following the rollercoaster crash in June.

Merlin said it expects its full-year earnings, which were initially expeced to be around £87m, will fall to between £37m and £47m after the Smiler ride accident, which left five people with life-changing injuries.

The warning is blamed on both the reduction in marketing and the temporary closure of the park and subsequent closure of two other rides, which "significantly" reduced volumes at Alton Towers Resort and, to a lesser extent, it's other theme parks including Thorpe Park and Chessington World of Adventures.

Nick Varney, chief executive officer, said in a statement: "We firmly believe that this [the closure of Alton Towers] was the right course of action reflecting the seriousness of the incident, the impact on our staff, and to allow the team to focus on supporting all those affected and on the implementation of the new safety protocols, where necessary.

"In addition, we felt it appropriate to significantly reduce UK theme park marketing activity, in what is a critical period in the run up to the peak summer season. Alton Towers Resort was reopened on 8 June 2015, but as a result of the material loss of momentum, trading at the park and, to a lesser extent, the broader UK Resort Theme Parks estate has been adversely impacted."

Elsewhere, revenue in its Legoland group saw like for like growh of 6 per cent driven by ongoing strength in its two US parks and successful launches of new features and products.

Visitor numbers across its attractions, which include Sea Life and Madame Tussauds, rose 200,000 to 27.7 million.

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