Lego may run out of bricks for Christmas

The Lego Movie (left) has fuelled demand for Lego toys.
The Lego Movie (above) has fuelled demand for Lego toys. PHOTO: SINGTEL

COPENHAGEN • Some children may not get their Christmas wishes fulfilled this year as Lego's factories, although running at full speed, may not be able to make enough plastic bricks to keep up with demand from toy stores in Europe.

The Danish company has become the world's largest toymaker by sales, overtaking United States Barbie-maker Mattel, thanks partly to toys linked to movies, including The Lego Movie.

But difficulties in forecasting demand accurately means some orders may not be filled on time.

"We will not be able to deliver all of the orders from customers in the remainder of the year," spokesman Roar Trangbaek said.

He declined to specify which lines of toys or which European countries would be affected.

He said the company would be able to deliver orders it had already received, but may have trouble filling new orders later this year.

"It is really extraordinary and it has exceeded both ours and our customers' forecasts," he said when asked why the company had not foreseen the surge in demand.

The Danish company's sales grew by 18 per cent in the first half of this year to 14 billion Danish crowns (S$2.96 billion), putting it ahead of Mattel and Monopoly maker Hasbro, whose revenues came in at US$1.9 billion (S$2.65 billion) and US$1.5 billion respectively.

"We are running our factories at maximum capacity and will do everything we can to meet demand," Mr Trangbaek said.

The unlisted company, owned by the family of founder Ole Kirk Kristiansen, invested more than three billion crowns in plants and equipment last year to make more toys. Before Christmas last year, there were some shortages in countries such as Denmark and Canada.

The company is building a factory in Jiaxing, China, 100km from Shanghai, which is expected to run in 2017 and should produce most of the Lego toys for Asia in the future.

Lego has factories in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Denmark and Mexico.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 22, 2015, with the headline 'Lego may run out of bricks for Christmas'. Print Edition | Subscribe