Sales at toymaker Lego fall for the first time in 13 years

Image      Lego sales declined in Europe and North America

Danish toymaker Lego has posted its first fall in annual earnings and sales since 2004 after seeing profits tumble 18% in a "challenging" past year.

Revenue for 2017 dropped by 8% to 35b Danish kroner (£4.2b; $5.8b), compared to 37.9b kroner in 2016.

Niels Christiansen, chief executive of the privately-owned Danish company, said Lego had ended the year with growth in most of its main markets and started 2018 "in better shape".

Lego has blamed the weak performance on "cleaning up" unpopular product lines, as well as a drop in sales in Europe and North America.

"There is no quick fix and it will take some time to achieve longer term growth", he added.

The company announced 1400 job losses last September as part of a drive to "stabalise" the company following the decline.

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Nevertheless, new CEO Niels Christiansen believes Lego is in better shape than it was a year ago, even though he also admitted he did not like the results.

Despite the overall decline, its sales grew in seven of its 12 biggest markets in December.

For this year, Christiansen said, "we will stabilize the business" by continuing to invest in new products and global marketing.

It has witnessed a strong potential for its business in China.

Founded in 1932 by Ole Kirk Kristiansen, his grandson Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen is now the main family representative at Lego and ranked previous year by Forbes as the 35th wealthiest person in the world with a net worth of $21.1 billion. The company's net profit for the full year fell from US$1.56 billion in 2016 to US$1.29 billion. The blame is being put on the too many Lego bricks and cheaper selling prize.

They've had some success with digital forays before (2014's "The Lego Movie" grossed $470m at the box office) - but if history is any indication, the company would benefit from sticking to its core product: the good 'ol fashioned, colored bricks of yesteryear.

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