Merlin Entertainments have announced today that up to 190 salaried jobs could be cut at Alton Towers Resort before the 2016 season begins in March.

The announced cuts form part of a restructuring of the business which is expected to take place ahead of the 2016 season next March and is expected to come from a combination of early retirements, vacancies not being filled, redeployment, and voluntary redundancies. In a statement the Resort said:

At the end of a very difficult year, Alton Towers Resort has confirmed a proposed restructure of the business to be completed in time for the opening of the new season in March 2016.

Regretfully however, it may result in the loss of up to 190 salaried jobs across the resort. We anticipate some of these will be accounted for by a programme of non-replacement of existing vacancies, early retirement, redeployment elsewhere in the group, and voluntary redundancy. As soon as employee representatives have been appointed a consultation period will begin.

We appreciate the contribution our employees have made to the business and just how distressing this will be for everyone. Alton Towers will work closely with all those affected in order to support them through the consultation process and any subsequent requirement for alternative employment and job search activities. This includes an extension of its Employee Assistance Programme which will offer immediate phone support to all employees as well as follow-up practical aid and counselling.

Alton Towers Resort also stated that it had carried out a “detailed review of all operations across the resort” to consider the future needs of the resort and the challenges it faces. The Resort went on to say:

This was an incredibly difficult decision to make and it has not been taken lightly or easily. However, we believe that this reorganisation now, together with a continuous programme of capital investment, will not only ensure the resort’s long-term growth, which is so vital to the local economy, but also protect the jobs of the bulk of its employees for the future.

This latest re-structuring is the result of what has been described as a ‘very difficult year’ following the events of 2nd June when a train carrying sixteen people collided with a stalled train on The Smiler, resulting in serious injuries to five of the passengers. Following the crash the park was closed for five days, and since re-opening visitor numbers have been significantly lower than what would typically be expected for the traditionally busy summer season. In July Merlin revised its expected profits for the Theme Park division of its business down to between £40m and £50m, a reduction from £87m in 2014. This reduction was further confirmed in September when it was revealed that revenue had fallen 13% in the period up until the start of September. Throughout the latter half of the 2015 season a number of operation changes were also implemented to help streamline operating costs which included reducing the operating hours of some attractions and closing other attractions for the final few weeks of the main season. Towards the end of the main season the Resort has seen an increase in visitor numbers once again, with a re-vamped Scarefest and spectacular Fireworks events helping to attract visitors back to the park. Despite this however, it would seem that Merlin Entertainments feel further measures are needed to try and secure the long term future of the Resort.

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