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Published: 11:00, 10 October 2013
Years of devastating financial losses at Dickens World have been unveiled by a former company director.
Ed De Lucy, who resigned on September 29, has revealed how the attraction’s original group of investors lost their £32 million pot last year.
It happened after the original company which ran it, Dickens World Ltd, went into administration after being hit with a £6m tax bill.
And Mr De Lucy revealed it was the company’s ownership of the Odeon Cinema next door and adjoining Porters restaurant which kept the indoor theme park at Chatham Maritime open, as it made £500,000 to £1m losses each year.
After Dickens World Ltd went bust, Mr De Lucy became director of a new company, Britannia Entertainments Ltd, which now runs the business.
He resigned from that role last month and former general manager Lenny Andreou was appointed as a director on October 2.
Mr De Lucy also revealed investors never owned the land which Dickens World sits on.
It was originally leased from Syndicate Leisure Limited, Chatham, and was sold to asset management company Schroders last year.
He also explained he was prepared to give up on the firm until Mr Andreou was brought in as a general manager in January on a six month contract.
Mr De Lucy said: “The issue is the business model didn’t work.
“Basically Dickens World ended up with a £6m tax bill because Dickens World Ltd never had the money from day one in 2006.
“After being there for eight years I was going to let it go but Lenny had a new vision for trying to make it work.
“So far he’s done a great job. He’s trying to get it to match the costs.
“It will work. Lenny has got contacts in London and he will be bringing in more ideas. Like any business, he will give it a go. I wish him all the best of luck.”
Dickens World’s new director Lenny Andreou has already had a significant impact on the business.
“Basically Dickens World ended up with a £6m tax bill because Dickens World Ltd never had the money from day one in 2006" - Ed de Lucy
The south east Londoner originally joined the attraction in January to help rebrand it.
It was his idea to reduce the admission price to £5.50 per person and introduce a 90-minute tour format.
It was also his decision to close the flagship Great Expectations boat ride.
Mr Andreou said: “Dickens World has so many qualities. There is nothing like it in Kent. It is a sleeping giant.
“For the money we are asking for, we should be on every mum and dad’s list of things to do in half term and at the weekend.
“There is nowhere in Medway where a family can be entertained for three hours for £22.”
More by this authorChris Price