Lego rides 'Star Wars' sets to record profits

An estimated 72 billion Lego bricks were sold last year, and  more than 100 million children played with them. 

Dale Wilcox/AP Images for LEGO Canada, Inc.
The Star Wars Rogue One K-2S0 droid made entirely of Lego bricks at the LEGO Booth at Fan Expo on Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016, in Toronto.

Lego continues to hold sway in children’s playrooms worldwide.

The Danish toy company experienced a record 19 percent growth in revenue last year, to $5.21 billion, according to its annual report. Net profit also grew by 31 percent, to $1.34 billion. Lego estimates that more than 100 million children interacted with Legos last year, whether through playing with friends at home or building Lego robotic systems at school.  

Lego credits much of its record growth to products like LEGO City, the Ninjago line, and one of its biggest sellers, the Lego Star Wars series. That partnership, which yields tie-in books, video games, and toys that are all based on the franchise, was one of the biggest reasons Lego sold over 72 billion Lego bricks last year.

“We have achieved significant growth in sales every year for a decade now, and it is highly satisfactory that we can deliver yet another year of double digit sales growth,” John Goodwin, Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer at the LEGO Group, said in a press release.

Partnered products are a lucrative product route for Lego. Star Wars was one of the first for the brand, introduced in 1999. Since then, Lego has introduced several more, including Harry Potter, to Disney, and an entire range focused on Batman’s exploits in Gotham City (Batman is a major character in 2014's "The Lego Movie").  

Lego has had recent success in bringing playsets and video games based on easily-recognizable characters to children and adults around the world, but in the late 1990s and early 2000s the company was on the brink of extinction. During those years, Lego released several toy lines that didn’t resonate with children, and the company ran a deficit in 2000 and 2003.

Since that time, the company has restructured, returning to its model of licensing successful franchises and continuing to take chances on new products. Lego continues to develop more toys, like Lego Dimensions, that have a relationship between the physical world and a video game platform.

Lego also received a huge boost from "The Lego Movie," which began development in 2009 and was released in 2014. The film grossed $257 million domestically during its run and gave Lego an 11 percent boost in product revenue that year. A spin-off film, "The Lego Batman Movie," is scheduled for release in 2017.

And according to an analysis done by The Telegraph, if you take care of your Lego sets, they can be an even smarter investment than the stock market. Existing Lego sets have increased in value between 12 to 36 percent since 2000.    

“We are excited that children all over the world loved LEGO play in 2015,” Julia Goldin, Executive Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer, the LEGO Group, said in a news release. “When we succeed we are excited not only because of the positive business implications, but even more so because we bring playful learning to millions of children. I feel confident that by the end of 2016 even more children will have experienced LEGO play.”

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