- SeaWorld Entertainment CEO Joel Manby stepped down on Tuesday.
- Manby took over in March 2015 amid a scandal over the parks’ treatment of their signature orca whales and plummeting attendance.
- The company also reported fourth quarter earnings which saw attendance dip, losses increase, and revenue fall by less than analysts expectations.
SeaWorld Entertainment CEO Joel Manby stepped down after nearly three years leading the embattled theme parks company.
The company made the announcement as part of its fourth-quarter earnings on Tuesday, with the board of directors and Manby saying they “agreed that this is the right time to identify a new CEO as the Company enters its next phase of intensified focus on execution and growth.”
Manby took over in March 2015 and led the company as it attempted to rehabilitate its reputation following the 2013 documentary Blackfish, which detailed the parks’ treatment of their signature orca whales.
Despite the company’s decision to end the breeding of orcas in captivity and attempts to reposition itself as a conservation effort, attendance steadily declined along with profits over the past few years.
Chief Parks Operations Officer John T. Reilly will step in as interim CEO after Manby’s departure, while an outside consulting group will search for a new CEO.
The announcement came along with fourth-quarter results that showed a dip in attendance and larger losses, but stronger than expected revenues. Attendance dipped 2.7% from the same period a year ago, with 4.26 million people going to the company’s various theme parks. Full year 2017 attendance was down 5.5% from 2016.
Sea World posted a net loss of $US0.24 a share for the quarter, greater than a $US0.14 loss in the fourth quarter of 2016. Analysts were expectating a loss of $US0.19 per share. Revenue came in at $US265.5 million, down 0.8% from a year ago but higher than Wall Street analysts’ expectation of $US260.7 million.