Merlin Entertainments, the world’s second largest leisure company behind Disney, engaged Petersham Group to use their knowledge of the Portuguese leisure market and of Merlin’s Sea Life Centre aquarium brand and to work with them to identify the right location and site for their first Sea Life project in Portugal.
Petersham CEO, Keith Thomas, was previously their Development Director, in charge of locating, supervising, building and opening all new Sea Life Centre Aquarium and other attraction projects for the company and continues to keep a close working relationship with Merlin management.
Petersham, together with local associates, Eurofun Lda, identified the city of Porto as having the right combination of market size and conditions, a supportive political administration and importantly, eligibility for grant funding under the QREN programme (a combination of EU Structural funding and funding from the Portuguese government). The Petersham and Eurofun team helped Merlin to secure a lease which was mutually beneficial to the City and to Merlin, to gain the necessary planning consents and building permits, to obtain over 30% in grant funding and to see the project successfully built and launched to great acclaim, opening in June 2009.
Despite the difficult general economy in Portugal, the leisure and tourism sector remains relatively buoyant and the attraction continues to trade well and to meet Merlin’s expectations
- Client Merlin Entertainments Development Ltd
- Date September 16, 2013
- Tags Funding Advice & Assistance, Visitor Attractions