Lego: Danish bricks celebrate their 90th birthday with a bang

Driven by the success of Star Wars, Harry Potter and Lego City bricks, the world toy leader is posting record sales and profits.

By Olivier Ubertalli

The fortune of the Kristiansen family, which owns 75% of the capital of Lego, is around 7 billion dollars, according to Forbes.

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Ihe small Danish town of Billund is smiling. Lego, the local manufacturer of plastic bricks which is the pride of its 6,000 inhabitants, has just closed a prosperous year. To think that the company created in 1932 by carpenter Ole Kirk Kristiansen was in difficulty in the early 2000s… Today, the money is flowing, thanks to new Lego City and Lego Friends and Star Wars or Harry bricks Potter, sold thanks to licensing agreements entered into by the Danish group.

Lego, whose name comes from “Leg Godt” (“play well”, in Danish), had a very good year in 2022, the year of its 90th birthday. The Scandinavian firm remains the world number one in toys, ahead of the Japanese Bandai Namco, owner of Pokémon, and the Americans Hasbro (Transformers, Magic cards, Peppa Pig, etc.) and Mattel (Barbie, Fisher-Price, etc.).

Last year, Lego’s turnover jumped 17%, to 64.6 billion Danish kroner, or 8.6 billion euros. Net profit increased by 5% to 13.9 billion crowns, or around 1.8 billion euros. We almost forget that the Billund group withdrew, like many foreign companies, from Russia because of the war against Ukraine. These good financial results are the business of the Kristiansen family, which holds 75% of the capital. According to the magazine Forbesshe remains the first fortune of the kingdom of Denmark, with 7 billion dollars.

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“Our solid results show that the Lego play system is more modern and attractive than ever,” trumpeted Niels Christiansen, CEO of the group. Since his arrival in 2017, he has relied on a constant renewal of boxes and figurines in order to stir up customer loyalty. Lego now has an ultra-expanded portfolio of 770 products, half of which are new. Niels Christiansen also accelerated the development of the online store and physical distribution through stores located in major cities.

The company has more than 900 stores worldwide, including 155 that opened last year. Of this total, around 200 are located in China, one of the Danish’s main markets. In a world increasingly invaded by screens, Lego intends to promote the virtues of the physical toy. “We fight against extracurricular activities and video games so that children give our bricks part of their free time”, confided to us in 2020 Niels Christiansen.

There remains the question of “greening” its bricks, which are deemed to be very solid thanks to their plastic manufacture. The Billund firm produces flexible green decorative elements, such as trees and leaves, with sugarcane plastic. She uses recycled cardboard for the boxes and has started replacing the small plastic pouches that hold the parts with biodegradable films and paper bags. “We want to make good plastic, meaning plastic from sustainable or ‘bio-based’ materials that can continue to work for years. We are investing a lot of money to achieve this by 2030”, Niels Christiansen told us in 2020. Lego ensures that more than 50% of the parts of its toys are already made of renewable polyethylene (BIO-PE).

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