Lego replaces long-time CEO with first foreign boss

Incumbent Jorgen Vig Knudstorp to step down by the end of the year to be replaced by Briton Bali Padda

Incoming Lego CEO Bali Padda. The Danish toymaker is vying with Barbie doll-maker Mattel to become the world’s biggest toymaker. Photograph: Nikolai Linares/Reuters

Incoming Lego CEO Bali Padda. The Danish toymaker is vying with Barbie doll-maker Mattel to become the world’s biggest toymaker. Photograph: Nikolai Linares/Reuters

 

Danish toymaker Lego is to appoint its first foreign CEO and give its family owners a bigger role in developing the Lego brand under an organisational shake-up that will see incumbent Jorgen Vig Knudstorp step down by the end of the year.

Briton Bali Padda, currently chief operations officer, will replace Mr Knudstorp, who was the first chief executive from outside the Kristiansens, Denmark’s richest family.

Mr Knudstorp has led the company through a turnaround since his appointment in 2004, a year after the company flirted with bankruptcy. He will head up the company’s new Lego Brand Group, while the owner family will become active in brand-related activities, including the group’s stake in Merlin Entertainments, operator of the Legoland theme parks, and in Lego Education used in schools.

Lego, with revenues of 35.8 billion Danish crowns (€4.8bn) last year, is vying with Barbie doll-maker Mattel to become the world’s biggest toymaker, helped by its push into movie franchises, video games and smartphone applications. The company said its new brand group would help it reap “untapped potential in the Lego brand”.

Opportunities

Lego Group

Under extrovert Mr Knudstorp Lego overtook My Little Pony producer Hasbro to become the world’s second largest toy company. After taking over in 2004, he set about reviving Lego’s core business by firing consultants and hiring new designers to come up with higher-margin products that were up to date but still looked like Lego, an abbreviation of the Danish “leg godt”, meaning “play well”. – Reuters