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Lego Sales Herald Bright Future for Educational Toys

27/03/2010 Denmark's most famous export since the Vikings - Lego - has continued its remarkable rise in the UK toy sector, with a 28 per cent increase in sales last year.

Ever since it first appeared on the British toy scene in the late 1940s, Lego has gripped the imagination of children and has been at the vanguard of educational toys. The endless permutations that are possible with the brightly-coloured bricks give it great longevity and the power to become involved in all kinds of play.

Releasing sales figures for 2009 at the beginning of March this year, the company revealed that the 28 per cent increase in sales marked the fifth year of growth in the British market - it now is third only to US toy giants Hasbro when it comes to market share. Globally, Lego saw an increase in revenue to £1.39 billion, from £1.01 billion in 2008.

Because of its continuing status as a private company, Lego is not required to release revenue figures for individual countries. In fact, it is still owned by the grandson of Lego founder Ole Kirk Christiansen, Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen.

Speaking from the company's home base in Billund, Denmark, chief executive Jørgen Vig Knudstorp said: "Our results in 2009 have been highly satisfactory. We can be pleased by strong global growth which is driven by the classic product lines and our launch of Lego board games has come off to a really good start."

He added that the company expects to grow even more during 2010.

With all companies in the UK keeping a wary eye on the economy, the Lego success story should be seen as an encouraging one for British toymakers who are dedicated to traditional quality products. High sales indicate a great enthusiasm among British children and parents for educational toys and for play that stimulates the imagination and encourages them to develop creative skills that help them create their own worlds to play in.

Such forms of play are highly encouraged by educationalists and imaginative play is written into the UK government's own Early Years Foundation Stage guidelines, which emphasise this most satisfying form of play's beneficial effects on a child's development.

It hasn't all been plain sailing for Lego, however. Almost a decade ago, the company was taking large losses, when it tried moving away from the traditional toys market and making a series of ill-considered diversification moves into the fields of babycare products and books.

Now that it is back on the straight and narrow, the future is once again looking bright for the toy that's very name is derived from the Danish leg godt - or "play well." Good advice indeed.

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