January 7, 2019 / 11:29 AM / 5 months ago

Madame Tussauds-owner Merlin to build Legoland Park in South Korea

FILE PHOTO: The LEGOLAND entrance is seen in Windsor, Britain May 10, 2018. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

(Reuters) - Madame Tussauds-owner Merlin Entertainments Plc (MERL.L) has entered into a partnership agreement to build a Legoland theme park in South Korea, the company said on Monday.

Merlin, which operates the London Eye, said the deal with the Gangwon Provincial Government is valued at 290 billion Korean Won (£203 million) and Legoland Korea would be open by 2022.

The park, based on the children’s toy favourite for its colourful plastic bricks, is set to be located on the island of Hajungdo in Chuncheon and expects to employ 1,600 people.

Following Legoland New York’s scheduled opening in 2020, Legoland Korea will be the company’s tenth Legoland Park.

The company said it would invest 210 billion Korean Won and the remaining amount would be financed by LL Developments, the investment arm of Gangwon Province.

Lego, an abbreviation of the Danish “leg godt” meaning “play well”, was introduced to South Korea in 1984. The country is the Lego Group’s third largest market in Asia Pacific.

Merlin also said it was in advanced talks with third parties about a number of sites for Legoland Parks in China and sees an opportunity to open 20 parks globally.

Merlin Entertainments’ Legoland Parks fell short of revenue expectations over the summer and the tourist attraction company also highlighted rising labour costs in a trading update in October.

The company has forecast that Legoland’s performance would bounce back in the 2018-19 fiscal year on the back of marketing and promotional tie-ups with “Lego Movie 2”, due for release in February.

Reporting by Samantha Machado and Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr

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