13 Aug 2017 - 0:36

Lego returns to Danish roots with CEO switch


Copenhagen:  Lego abruptly removed its chief executive Bali Padda after just eight months, replacing the 61-year-old Briton with a younger Danish industrialist in a battle to become the world’s biggest toymaker.
The Danish company said it had appointed Niels B Christiansen, 51, who joins Lego after nine years as CEO of Danfoss where by focusing on digitalization he increased sales and turned the firm into a global leader in energy efficiency.
Lego is hoping Christiansen can revive its flagging growth by increasing sales in Asia and fully embracing the digital era.
After flirting with bankruptcy after 2000, Lego saw a decade of impressive growth under the leadership of Jorgen Vig Knudstorp, who is now chairman of the family-owned maker of the distinctive plastic building bricks which have been enjoyed by generations of children.
When the toy market shrank after the financial crisis, Lego bucked the trend by tying up with movie franchises like Star Wars, Harry Potter and Indiana Jones in deals spanning Lego sets, video games, movie franchises and smartphone applications.
But while Lego now vies with Barbie doll maker Mattel to be the world’s largest maker of toys, revenue growth slowed from 25 percent in 2015 to just six percent last year with sales of 37.9bn Danish crowns ($6bn).
Enter Padda, a Lego veteran and the first non-Dane to lead the firm, who took over from Knudstorp, a Danish national who had overseen average annual sales increases of more than 15 percent and made Lego the world’s most profitable toymaker.
Founded in 1932 by Ole Kirk Kristiansen, his grandson Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen is now the main family representative at Lego.
Padda will now take on a special advisory role within the Lego Brand Group, which is headed by Knudstorp.