The Danish toy-maker, known for its brightly coloured building blocks, said consumer sales in established markets such as the UK were up in “single digits” during the first six months of the year.
Lego was forced into a rethink in 2017 after it suffered a rare slump in sales and profits and had to axe 1,400 jobs. The toy industry is battling the rise of digital devices that contributed to last year’s collapse of Toys R Us and last month saw Hasbro, the owner of My Little Pony and Play-Doh, buy the company behind Peppa Pig for £3.3bn.
Niels Christiansen, Lego’s chief executive, said: “We are satisfied with our performance given the transformative shifts which continue to reshape the global toy industry. We continue to grow consumer sales and market share in our largest markets.”
Global sales were up 4% at 14.8bn kroner (£1.8bn) in the first six months of the year. Operating profits, however, declined 16% at 3.5bn kroner as the company invested in its web operation and geared up for a store opening spree in emerging markets including China and India. New toys linked to the Marvel Avengers films and the Lego Movie sequel had sold particularly well, it said.
In an attempt to stay relevant to children growing up in an internet age Lego has been investing in “digital play experiences”, such as the Hidden Side series which combines its plastic bricks with an augmented reality app – effectively enabling children to bring their models to life.
“Kids want to play with what they have seen,” said Christiansen. “It’s never just about the physical products, it’s about the entire experience. It’s extremely important we stay relevant and cool.”
Lego is controlled by the billionaire Kristiansen family, descendants of founder Ole Kirk Christiansen, a master carpenter who made the first Lego toy – a wooden duck. Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, grandson of Ole, is chairman of Kirkbi, the family holding company that owns 75% of Lego. Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen is Denmark’s richest man, with a $5.5bn (£4.6bn) fortune according to the Bloomberg Billionaires index.