Lego’s double-digit sales rise beats rivals

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br lego Bloomberg Customers browse toys in the Lego section at an E-Mart store in Incheon, South Korea, on Saturday, December 21 last year. The Danish maker of plastic bricks says it sells 34 sets a second during the Christmas season. Photo: Bloomberg

Stockholm - Lego’s full-year revenue advanced 10 percent with growth in all major markets outpacing competitors including Mattel, the toy maker said yesterday.

Sales rose to 25.38 billion Danish kroner (R50.2bn) last year, the maker of children’s building block sets said. Net income increased 9 percent to 6.12 billion kroner.

“In less than 10 years, we have more than quadrupled our revenue,” chief executive Joergen Vig Knudstorp said. “In 2013, we successfully developed and launched products that children put high on their wish list all over the world.”

The sales advance compares with an increase of 1 percent to $6.48bn (R69.7bn) at US-based Barbie maker Mattel. Hasbro said on February 10 that its full-year sales were little changed at $4.08bn.

It was a “major challenge” to stay top of mind for children seeking toys, and Lego competed with “very strong players”, Knudstorp said.

“With the level of growth we have right now, we need to constantly think of expanding our facilities,” he said.

The Danish toy maker’s bricks are featured in The Lego Movie, which has led US ticket sales for three weekends since opening on February 7.

Lego owner Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen named Knudstorp chief executive after the company posted a loss in 2003, following a period of diversification in the 1990s.

Under Knudstorp, the company sold its Legoland theme parks to Merlin Entertainments, cut costs and refocused on co-branding strategies with successful products like Star Wars, Harry Potter and SpongeBob.

The global toy market declined slightly in value last year, according to Lego, which said it had achieved sales growth in all major markets.

Lego posted “single-digit” growth in the US, UK and northern European markets, while achieving “double-digit” expansion in most other markets with very strong growth in Asia.

The Star Wars line and its Duplo sets for toddlers were among Lego’s best-selling products last year, the company said, which added that it sold 34 sets a second during the Christmas season.

The maker of plastic bricks forecast the global toy market would expand by “low single digits” in the future, and said it planned to outgrow the market and gain share.

Lego, whose name is derived from the Danish words for “play well”, is controlled by the family of carpenter Ole Kirk Kristiansen, who founded the business in 1932. – Bloomberg

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