Lego on the up after first sales and profits fall since 2004

Lego is putting its house in order says CEO Niels Christiansen
Lego is putting its house in order says CEO Niels Christiansen

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.

The group admitted it had put in a disappointing performance as it reported pre-tax profits of 10.2 billion Danish krone (£1.2bn) against kr12.4bn (£1.5bn) the previous year.

The launch of the Lego Ninjago movie and strong demand for Lego Star Wars products failed to halt a sales slide, with revenues down 8% to kr35bn (£4.2bn).

Operating profits fell 17% to kr10.4bn (£1.2bn).

It marked the first fall in both sales and profits since the group’s woes in 2003-2004.

But the plastic brick giant said it was focusing on “stabilising” the business in 2018 and had started to see signs of recovery at the end of last year.

Niels Christiansen, Lego Group chief executive, said 2017 had been a challenging year.

“Overall we are not satisfied with the financial results. However, we ended the year in a better position.

“We started 2018 in better shape and during the coming year we will stabilise the business by continuing to invest in great products, effective global marketing and improved execution”.

Christiansen has been lashing costs and overhauling the group in an effort to boost flagging sales, announcing 1,400 job losses last autumn - cutting its workforce by 8%.

He said these “difficult actions” were now complete.