Lego sales fall for the first time in 13 years

Lego saw ‘strong double-digit’ growth in China, whilemarkets in North America and Europe declined

Lego said in September it would lay off 8 per cent of staff and that it had pressed the “reset-button”, acknowledging its business had grown too complicated.

Lego said in September it would lay off 8 per cent of staff and that it had pressed the “reset-button”, acknowledging its business had grown too complicated.

 

Lego’s sales fell last year for the first time since 2004 as the Danish toymaker cleared excess inventories and struggled with tough retail markets in Europe and North America.

The privately-owned company, famous for its colourful plastic bricks, could be facing its biggest test since flirting with bankruptcy in the early 2000s after a sudden halt to more than a decade of strong growth.

Sales fell 8 per cent to 35 billion Danish crowns (€4.7 billion) in 2017, down from a 6 per cent increase in 2016 and a far cry from the 25 percent growth achieved in 2015.

The company said overall consumer sales were flat, but the figures were affected by a clean-up of inventories.

Lego saw “strong double-digit” growth in China, while most established markets in North America and Europe declined.

Lego said in September it would lay off 8 per cent of staff and that it had pressed the “reset-button”, acknowledging its business had grown too complicated.

“During 2017, revenue in our established markets declined, primarily due to actions we took to clean up inventories. This decline impacted our operating profits,” chief executive Niels B Christiansen said in a statement.

The company’s Lego Ninjago series benefited from the release of the movie in September.

Mr Christiansen said consumer sales grew in seven of Lego’s 12 largest markets in December and that the company started 2018 in a better position.

“There is no quick-fix and it will take some time to achieve longer-term growth,” he said.

Mr Christiansen joined Lego in October after nine years as CEO of Danish industrial group Danfoss, taking over from Briton Bali Padda after just eight months.

Lego is hoping Mr Christiansen can revive its flagging growth by increasing sales in Asia and fully embracing the digital era.

Toy makers including Mattel and Hasbro have been hit by the bankruptcy of the biggest US toy-store chain Toys’R’Us in September.

Mattel saw sales slip 11 per cent last year, while Hasbro grew sales slightly.

– Reuters