POOLE’S leisure attractions operator Merlin Entertainments saw sales rise in good weather but suffered a fall in profits.

For the 26 weeks ending June 30, Merlin’s revenue was up from £685million to £694m, a rise of 1.3 per cent.

However, profit before tax was knocked 13.7 per cent year-on-year to £43m.

Sales in Merlin’s theme parks grew 9.7 per cent, which the company attributed to good weather, successful investment and a recovery at Alton Towers, which was marred by a rollercoaster crash three years ago.

Revenue across the group’s Legoland parks was up 7.8 per cent following the full integration of Merlin’s Legoland business in Japan.

Nick Varney, Merlin’s chief executive, said the firm had “undoubtedly benefited” from the heatwave in the UK, and good weather across northern Europe.

However, the weather had a negative impact on the company’s indoor attractions.

“Having so far traded in line with expectations we are now entering our peak season where we generate the majority of our annual profit,” Mr Varney said.

“With many exciting new initiatives and launches to come in the future, we remain confident in our long-term prospects.”

Hargreaves Lansdown’s Steve Clayton said: “Merlin make the bulk of their money in the second half of the year, but there are mixed messages about the outlook in these interim numbers.

“The theme parks are trading well, hardly surprising given the sunshine so far this summer. Costs are going up though, as low unemployment starts to squeeze wages higher.”