Revenue for the theme parks and attractions giant, which operates Alton Towers, Legoland and Madame Tussauds, totalled GBP662.3m in 2008, up 37 per cent on the previous year. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation rise by 19 per cent to GBP203m.

Merlin attributed the results primarily to a 28 per cent increase in visitors to its UK attractions, a figure that was achieved despite poor weather and a worsening global economy.

Commenting on the results, CEO Nick Varney said: "I believe Merlin’s real success lies in our ability to maximise organic growth within the business through planned investment in all our sites combined with high levels of customer service.

"This is demonstrated for example in the significant improvement in performance in both revenue and visitor numbers of attractions like Alton Towers and Chessington World of Adventures."