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Park People Reunidos

What is the outlook for Europe? We see some signs of recovery in Spain, where I hope the VAT rate will not increase one more time as we see in France. In Italy we start to see some recovery, but it is a slow increase. We don’t have so many operations in the UK but those we have, like Blackpool Zoo, are doing well. In Germany the economy is good; that is one reason we invested this season at Movie Park. Elsewhere in Europe we still have room to develop, in Eastern countries like Russia, Hungary and all the “stans” (Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan etc) and probably Turkey. Turkey has high potential; they are ready.

How big is your “war chest”?

Between the renovation cap ex and acquisition cap ex we basically have €200 million to spend over the next three years. Of course it is a significant amount, and it gives us a lot of potential, but we are not a huge company like Walt Disney. We are an average-sized company, and we must not miss our focus. If some measured opportunities arose that were outside our plan then we would go back to the board, but I would not make an acquisition for the sake of acquisition; maybe at one time this is something we did.

Why does the Miami Seaquarium acquisition make strategic sense? First of all the attendance (650,000), revenue and EBITDA provide a good starting point. Number two, we know marine animals very well, we are not taking risks. Then there is the fact that Miami is a true hub

Mirabilandia, Italy

between the US, South America and Europe; the visitors come from everywhere. Also it’s a year-round operation with the weather. Miami will always be Miami!

Would you consider building any new parks from scratch?

No. It is not only a matter of money, it is a matter of time. It takes six years to develop a hotel; you can easily add two more years to build a park. From what I see in the history of this company we are very good at making acquisitions and improving the performance of existing parks. The Dubai parks are new projects, and we will advise the owner in terms of designing the park, selecting attractions, pre-opening etc, but when it comes to building a park in the middle of, I don’t know where, no we will not do that.

Parques Reunidos has allowed the attractions it has acquired to keep their original names and identities, even allowing your US facilities to continue to operate under the umbrella of Palace Entertainment. Why is this?

That was one of the questions I asked when I joined the company, because it would be much easier when you are on the web with one name for all our parks, but the amusement park business is different to the hotel business. Don’t forget there were some who tried and failed in Europe. You remember Six Flags taking over Walibi, it was a total failure. Most of our parks are very original. When you go to Tusenfryd in Oslo, Bobbejaanland in Belgium or Slagharen in the Netherlands, to the local people it is their park. It’s the same in the US; they don’t know that Kennywood is part of Palace Entertainment, which is run by a Spanish company owned by a British fund – and they don’t care. The true customer when he goes to Kennywood he wants to have nice rides, a very specific kind of atmosphere and a burger with bacon and cheese. And this is what we give them.


Marineland in Antibes, France, is one of Parques Reunidos’ best-performing properties

70 parks and 26

million guests Parques Reunidos is the second largest operator of leisure parks in Europe, with 70 theme parks, amusement parks, waterparks, animal parks, zoos, aquariums and other family attractions in 12 countries including Spain, Belgium, Norway, Denmark, France, Italy, Germany, Holland, the UK and Argentina. Its US operation, Palace Entertainment, currently runs 38 parks across North America. Of its 70 global properties, 14 are owned outright by the company, the remainder either operated under a lease agreement or management contract with their respective owners.

In total, Parques Reunidos entertained 26.2 million guests in 2013. Group revenue last year was €540 million, delivering EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) of €167 million. Backed by the British private equity fund Arle Capital Partners, the company is headquartered in Madrid, within the grounds of Parques de Atracciones. A French citizen born in Morocco, Yann Caillère joined Parques Reunidos as CEO in January of this year, bringing with him a successful track record as an executive in the hospitality and leisure sector, serving as CEO of both the Accor and Louvre hotels group, and as a former chief operating officer of Euro Disney. He is married with one daughter and one son.


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