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Lego bricks demand sends CEO on hiring spree as rivals retrench

March 7, 2023 Updated Tue., March 7, 2023 at 9:46 a.m.

Pieces of Lego, manufactured by Lego A/S, are arranged in Danbury, U.K., on March 5, 2021.   (Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg)
Pieces of Lego, manufactured by Lego A/S, are arranged in Danbury, U.K., on March 5, 2021.  (Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg)
By Christian Wienberg Bloomberg

Kids are clamoring to get their hands on the newest sets of colorful Lego bricks, propelling sales and sparking a recruiting push at the toy giant Lego.

Themed sets of building blocks drawing on the popularity of Star Wars and Harry Potter helped the Danish company report a 17% jump in 2022 revenue, and it’s using the momentum to invest in growth.

Chief Executive Officer Niels B. Christiansen says that entails hiring thousands of new employees at a time when the toy industry is cutting back.

Speaking in an interview on Tuesday, the CEO said Lego wants to hire 500 more digital experts in Denmark, the U.K. and China in addition to as many as 6,000 workers for its new factories in the U.S. and Vietnam over a number of years.

The Danish company, which is owned by the billionaire Kirk Kristiansen family, will also recruit more people to drive the push to make its colorful building blocks more sustainable, he said.

“We’re growing and we’re taking market share and to continue to do so we need more employees,” he said. “We’re in a good momentum compared with he rest of the industry.”

Lego’s hiring spree is an outlier in the toy market, which shrunk last year.

Its biggest rivals, Mattel and Hasbro, both reduced head count in 2022, and Hasbro plans to cut a further about 15% of its workforce this year after a disappointing holiday shopping season.

Late last year, Lego introduced diverse characters as part of its Lego Friends line of products, including some with missing limbs, Down syndrome, anxiety, vitiligo, and even a dog with a wheelchair. It plans more such products, Christiansen said.

“The reception has been very positive” and “it’s interesting how kids want their toys to relate to their reality,” the CEO said.

“Children who have a disability of some sort find a confidence in the fact that they see characters like them in these Lego sets.”

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