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The company behind Yorkshire Wildlife Park has reported a rise in turnover despite a “year of two halves” in 2018. The business also hailed a “stunning” start to 2019 and has begun work on a major expansion project.

The park is home to almost 400 animals from about 70 species, and attracts more than three quarters of a million visitors per year.

According to accounts recently filed with Companies House, Wild Life Group Ltd reported turnover of £12.9m for the year ending 30 November 2018, up from £12.2m in 2017.

Pre-tax profit was £3.05m, compared to £3.35m the year before, but EBITDA increased to £5.2m from £5m.

In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors said: “2018 was a year of two halves with the continuing bad weather up to the end of May resulting in turnover at the start of the second half year being £1m behind budget. Then the sun came out and by the end of the year turnover had slightly exceeded budget, being 5 per cent up on the previous year.”

Annual footfall was maintained at just over 750,000, but this is in line with the limit of its current planning approval. As a result, the Yorkshire Wildlife Park made the decision in 2016 to seek land for expansion and a new entrance.

During the year, planning permission was granted by Doncaster Council for a £50m expansion of the park, with funding secured for the first phase and work starting in November.

Facilities including new animal reserves, lakes and landscaping and a visitor support hub are being developed on a 150-acre site adjacent to the park. This would help it increase its collection of more than 400 animals from more than 80 species, and create about 300 jobs.

Trading in the current financial year up to August 2019 is said to be about £1.35m above budget.

The directors added: “This is a stunning result and whilst much of this success is clearly related to the fine weather, in complete contrast to the same period last year, it does absolutely validate our decision to embark upon the current major expansion much of which will provide attractions and facilities with very significantly reduced dependence upon weather, seasons and daylight hours.”


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