Theme Park, Amusement Park and Attractions Industry News

Merlin bolsters ‘Midway’ team

Short stay attractions key to growth

Merlin Entertainments plans to continue the aggressive growth of its short stay attractions following the reorganisation of its “Midway” division and the appointment of a new site search and acquisitions director.

Steve Shears (pictured), who has been with Merlin for 10 years, from the original buyout from Vardon, will work with the MIdway team to identify sites for up to five new short stay and city centre attractions a year. These will comprise new Madame Tussauds, Sea Life, Dungeons and Legoland Discovery Centres outlets, as well as tactical single site acquisitions like the London Aquarium, bought by Merlin in May.

Shears, who replaces Johannes Mock (who has now left the company), worked latterly managing Madame Tussauds’ eight global sites. Before that he was involved in a number of Merlin’s major acquisitions including Gardaland and the Tussauds Group, and so has both financial and operational experience.

Merlin has also announced that the Midway division will be split up into four geographic regions: London, Europe, USA West and USA East.

James Burleigh is the new Midway divisional director for Europe. His responsibilities include all Merlin attractions across Europe excluding London. He is supported by three business unit heads: Meike Schulze (Germany), Iain Hawkins (UK) and Roland Maes (rest of Europe).

David Sharpe retains his existing role as divisional director for Midway attractions in London, where the London Eye and London Aquarium will be included alongside Madame Tussauds and the London Dungeon.

Meanwhile Adrian Jones and Janine DiGioacchino will retain their roles as general manager for Merlin’s Midway attractions in the USA West and East respectively. Both areas are highlighted for expansion in 2009 with the opening of Madame Tussauds in Hollywood and the Pepsi Globe observation wheel and Legoland Discovery Centre in Meadowlands near New York.

A fifth new senior position has also been created to support the growth that is taking place inside Merlin Entertainments, and the Midway division in particular. A divisional director for Midway development, yet to be appointed, will work closely both with the Midway regional directors and Merlin’s property and development group to oversee all new brands, new openings and emerging markets. Reporting to this role will be two new Midway openings managers – one each for the USA and Europe. All five senior positions will report direct to Merlin Entertainments’ Midway managing director, Glenn Earlam.

In addition to this, brand consistency will be the responsibility of four Midway marketing directors, who will work across all regions. They will also ensure that the marketing benefits and economies of scale for the individual brands are maximised both globally and in discreet geographic areas where joint activities are undertaken. The four marketing directors are Nicky Marsh (Madame Tussauds), Kate Edwards (Dungeons), Scott Williamson (Sea Life) and Nicola Hamilton (Legoland Discovery Centres).

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