2 May 2013,


A BUMPER January and early Easter holiday period has helped Dreamworld float through the weather washout that swamped the Gold Coast tourism industry in the March quarter.

Theme park owner Ardent Leisure (ASX: AAD) has revealed revenue for the nine months to the end of March was up 4.2 per cent to $79.85 million compared to a year earlier.

This is despite the rain deluge that started in late January and persisted through most of February and into March.

Ardent Leisure operates Dreamworld, WhiteWater World and the Skypoint attraction in Surfers paradise.

Combined profit for the three businesses was down slightly with Ardent reporting unaudited EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) of $27.56 million, compared with $27.81 million in the previous corresponding period.

Ardent chief executive Greg Shaw says strong trading in the first three weeks of January helped offset the rain-induced downturn in February.

Dreamworld, along with Village Roadshow’s Gold Coast theme parks, enjoyed their best summer holiday period in six years as tourists flocked to the city in December and January.

The dream run came to an abrupt end in February as the Gold Coast recorded 492mm of rain over two months.

However, Shaw remains upbeat in the wake of the solid numbers for the year to date.

He says Ardent Leisure’s investment in new attractions, such as the DreamWorks Madagascar, Shrek and Kung Fu Panda precincts, the Pandamonium thrill ride and the return of reality show Big Brother to the property provide Dreamworld with a “strong foundation for building market share”.

“We are also implementing a range of operational initiatives to create greater flexibility in the cost base of our parks to maximise operating efficiencies in off-peak periods outside of school holidays,” Shaw says.

Ardent Leisure says the fourth quarter has softened, largely because of the early Easter holiday period.

It recorded revenue of $7.28 million during April, down from $7.65 million in April last year as the school holiday period was brought forward to coincide with the Easter break.

Meanwhile, across Ardent Leisure’s business portfolio, which includes the Main Event Entertainment theme park division in the US, Goodlife Health Clubs, Australian bowling centres and d’Albora Marinas, revenue has risen 13.2 per cent to $336.72 million in the nine months to the end of March.

The result was driven by strong performances from the Goodlife and Main Event divisions.

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