Website screenshot of the Butterfly Beauty Shop.

London - A range of ‘sexist’ toys aimed at young girls sent Lego sales soaring to £2.5-billion last year.

Featuring pink bricks, hair salons and kitchen sets, the controversial Lego Friends range was criticised for gender stereotyping.

In the US more than 50,000 have signed a petition accusing Lego of “selling out girls” and “boxing children in”.

But they have become some of the most popular brands, selling twice as many sets as expected.

Those available in the UK include an outdoor bakery, a horse trailer with stables, a café and a rabbit hutch.

One set in the collection – Olivia’s House – was the company’s biggest selling item in the world, helping push Lego’s profits up by 40 percent to almost £870-million.

Global sales were up a quarter to £2.5-billion and have tripled since 2007. In the UK, sales rose by a fifth. Chief executive Jorgen Vig Knudstorp declared: “Year after year we must be able to predict what will capture the interest of children and deliver this in relevant Lego products – and in 2012 we succeeded.”

Lego’s City sets and Star Wars collection remained the biggest selling lines.

The company is also looking to focus on the Far East this year with a Legends of China range. - Daily Mail