Lego boss optimistic ahead of results

Lego?s chief executive says he expects the firm?s looming results to show it has survived the industry?s recent buffeting.
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Jorgen Vig Knudstorp said world figures from the privately held company would not be published for another two weeks, when the final figures were in, but "generally it looks good."

"We had a good Christmas globally despite a declining market," Knudstorp told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

The company disclosed Wednesday it had lifted sales in central Europe including Germany, about a quarter of its global sales, by four per cent to €229m ($339m) last year.

Controversy over toxic substances in Chinese-made toys has passed Lego by, with only three per cent of Lego manufacturing volume coming from China, mainly specialized items such as textile jackets for the "minifig" people that populate Lego games or the computer chips for the robotic series Mindstorms.

The bulk, 60 to 70 per cent, of Lego manufacturing is done in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Mexico.

Knudstorp said the firm is looking at growing sales in emerging markets such as Russia and China.

"We are the absolute market leader in eastern Europe," said Knudstorp. "We began in 1974 so we have been there since communist days. Our sales in Russia are now bigger than those in Japan."

He said Chinese sales had risen 50 to 60 per cent last year, "albeit from a very small base," but the company had not yet cracked the problem of building a profitable business in India. He said Lego had found India's existing distribution structures "very difficult."

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