Marcus Evans Group | Worldwide Headquarters | American Offices | Latin America | European Offices | African / Asian Offices

Lego’s profits rise as it thinks pink

‘Stephanie’s cool convertible’ and ‘Butterfly Beauty Shop’ available alongside usual Lego policemen, helicopters and dustbin lorries

Toymaker Lego has been thinking pink for the first time – and new ranges have helped the plastic brick firm lift profits and sales as it launched its first successful product for young girls since its inception in 1934.

Lego’s Drew Brazer, director for the UK and Ireland, said the company had tried on previous occasions to come up with something specifically aimed at girls, but nothing had worked. Now, alongside the usual Lego policemen, helicopters and dustbin lorries, is “Stephanie’s cool convertible” – a purple open-top car with pink accessories – and the “Butterfly Beauty Shop”, complete with Lego lipsticks.

Brazer said: “After four years of research involving mums and daughters, we’ve come up with something called Lego Friends that is selling extremely well; it will help drive growth in 2012.”

Lego Friends, aimed at six to 12-year-olds and launched on Boxing Day, is centred around five characters, Olivia, Emma, Stephanie, Mia and Andrea. The girls can build a cafe, veterinary hospital or tree house with lego bricks that include six new colours, mostly pastels, yellow and purple.

Brazer said: “Boys and girls have always been attracted to Lego, but the girls have tended to drift off at around the age of seven.

“Now we have in place the key elements to make a girl’s product a success.”

Lego’s figures for 2011 show global sales soaring by 17% to nearly £2.2bn while operating profit jumped from £573m to £660m.

Models licensed from popular film franchises like Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean and Harry Potter were among the star peformers, together with the new Ninjago line and the City series for five to 10-year-olds.

Brazer said Lego had prospered because of “product innovation and the tendency of consumers to fall back on trusted brands during hard times”.

The children’s building toy was not long ago in danger of looking outdated and obsolete among PlayStations, remote-controlled cars and interactive robotic film characters. Today, it is the third most popular toy brand in Britain after Hasbro and Mattel.

However, Lego cancelled development of its online Universe game, which was launched in late 2010, after a disappointing reception.

Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, Lego group chief executive, said: “It is a highly satisfactory result reflecting a solid growth in profit. Growth in the North American market continued undiminished, and also in most European and Asian markets we were able to report double-digit increases in sales.”

Lego said it expected continued growth but that the “economic crisis in certain European markets will mean slower growth during the coming year”. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds