The small Danish town of Billund is smiling. Lego, the local manufacturer of plastic bricks that is the pride of its 6,000 inhabitants, has just closed a successful year. To think that the company founded in 1932 by carpenter Ole Kirk Kristiansen was struggling 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's 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 by 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. One would 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 Forbes magazine, she remains the first fortune of the kingdom of Denmark, with 7 billion dollars.
"Our solid results show that the Lego play system is more modern and attractive than ever," said 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-rich 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 opened last year. Of this total, around 200 are located in China, one of the main markets for Danish. In a world increasingly invaded by screens, Lego intends to promote the virtues of the physical toy. “We fight with extracurricular activities and video games so that children give our bricks part of their free time,” Niels Christiansen told us in 2020.
There remains the question of "greening" its bricks, which are reputed to be very solid thanks to their plastic construction. The Billund firm produces flexible green decorative elements, such as trees and leaves, with sugar cane 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 assures that more than 50% of its toy parts are already made of renewable polyethylene (BIO-PE).