Lego is thanking the magical qualities of Harry Potter for helping it to sidestep the economic downturn, announcing booming sales and market share figures.
The Danish toy brick maker said it made £563 million worldwide last year before tax on the back of soaring sales and is now the world’s fourth-largest toy manufacturer with a global market share of 5.9%.
The renewed popularity of Lego worldwide has been mirrored in the UK, where market share leaped from 4.6% to 6.2% as retail sales grew by 48% last year.
Alan Wright, toy merchandiser at the John Lewis Group, said Lego was consistently in the retailer's five best-selling toys: “There is something for everyone — from a £2 collectable mini figure to a £130 Star Wars set.”
Lego takes its name from the Danish phrase leg godt, which means “play well". The first bricks were designed in the 1940s and have spawned a huge sub-culture of movies, games, video games, competitions, and four amusement parks.
Last July sales spiked after David Beckham said that building Lego would be his dream pastime if he wasn’t playing professional football, revealing that he filled his spare time at AC Milan piecing together a huge Lego version of the Taj Mahal. Sales of the 5,922-piece set subsequently soared by 663%.
“Lego UK has enjoyed phenomenal sales over the past year. Our new Lego Harry Potter products further consolidated our market position over the Christmas period,” said Marko Ilincic, managing director, Lego UK.
Lego has come back into fashion over recent years. A warehouse was built last year at the factory in Kladno in the Czech Republic, and a moulding shop is being built at the plant in Monterrey, Mexico. Design work is in progress for a new office building in Denmark.
The group said it has been increasing market share across the world.
Classic ranges such as Lego City, Lego Duplo and Lego Star Wars (it is the biggest Star Wars manufacturer with 65% of the total toy licence) were especially popular with consumers in 2010.
The toy maker remains positive about growth prospects. “We expect growth in our primary markets in North America and Europe and in emerging markets,” Jorgen Vig Knudstorp, CEO, Lego Group.