Losses climb at Euro Disney

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More people are flocking to Disneyland Paris as it enters its sixth year, but the increased popularity has not prevented losses starting to climb again. Euro Disney, operator of the park, said yesterday increased attendances, higher hotel occupancy and more use of the related Disney Village attractions had boosted turnover by 14 per cent to FFr2.17bn (pounds 229m) in the first six months of the year to March.

Even so, a mounting bill for interest and financial leases helped increase losses from FFr169m to FFr210m in the period.

The group warned that prices, due to be held flat this year, might have to rise in 1998. "We feel there may be room for a very slight increase, but we will ensure our competitiveness is maintained", a spokesman said.

Although the figures were broadly in line with analysts' expectations, they confirmed their view that the group will find it increasingly difficult to cope with its FFr15bn debt burden as a standstill agreement reached in 1994 starts to unwind. The shares slipped 4p to 103.5p yesterday.

Gilles Pellison, the chairman and chief executive who took over following the departure of Philippe Bourguignon in February, gave a veiled warning that the group still had work to do to overcome the finance charges, which the company said would grow by FFr200m this year. "The success of Disneyland Paris is growing, as is our ability to manage the seasonal fluctuations in the business. However, growth in the high season remains vital to counter the sharp increase in financial charges."