DXB Entertainments narrows yearly loss as visitor numbers jump 22%

The total number of visitors to theme parks rose to 2.8 million in 2018

FILE - In this Dec. 18, 2016 file photo, people visit the Bollywood theme park at Dubai Parks & Resorts in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. A massive amusement park in Dubai says it is abandoning plans to build a $454-million Six Flags. DXB Entertainments, which runs Dubai Parks & Resorts, said in a statement filed on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019 on the local stock market, that a planned financial instrument was "no longer available and the Six Flags Dubai project cannot proceed at this time." (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili, File)
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DXB Entertainments, the Dubai theme parks operator, narrowed its 2018 full-year loss by 10.3 per cent as expenses fell and visitor numbers increased.

The company reported a net loss of Dh1 billion for the 12-month period ending December 31, it said in a regulatory filing to the Dubai Financial Market, where its shares are traded. The yearly loss was wider than the average Dh947.4 million estimated by analysts polled by Bloomberg.

The company's operating loss in 2018 narrowed to Dh260m from Dh445m the previous year. Revenues for the period fell an annual 2 per cent to Dh541m, missing the median analysts’ projection of Dh580.4m.

Theme parks contributed Dh367m, hospitality Dh92m, retail Dh30m and other revenues including sponsorships added Dh52m to total group revenues.

Total number of visitors to theme parks rose by 22 per cent year-on-year to 2.8 million, including 36,000 visits in a single day through the company’s “Big Day Out” campaign last year. Overall operating expenses at the end of last year also dropped to Dh728m, a 21 per cent slide across multiple costs lines, the company said.

DXB Entertainments, in which Dubai real estate developer Meraas Holding is a majority shareholder with a 52.3 per cent stake, has been working to pay down losses incurred in the past few years. The company operates Dubai Parks and Resorts, which holds the franchises for Legoland and Motiongate and runs the Bollywood theme park in Dubai.

Last year, it restructured Dh4.2bn of bank debt and received new funding from Meraas. In the third quarter of 2018, DXB Entertainments narrowed its losses by 4.5 per cent to Dh271.4m from a year earlier, having previously narrowed second-quarter losses by 11 per cent year-on-year to Dh255m.

Earlier this month the company shelved plans for a Six Flags theme park in the emirate, which was part of its expansion plans, due to lack of financing.

The decision came amid a strategic review of its future development plans and capital allotment, which the board commenced last August. It included Six Flags Dubai, which was scheduled to open this year.