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Lego the Danish toymaker will appoint its first CEO not born in Denmark and give members of the family that owns the company a larger role in the developing of the Lego brand following a shake-up of the organization that will see current CEO Jorgen Vig Knudstrop step aside on or before the end of 2016.
Briton Bali Padda, who is currently the COO, will be Knudstorp’s replacement. Knudstorp was the first CEO that was not part of the Kristiansen family, the richest family in Denmark.
He has been at the top spot at Lego since 2004, and was instrumental in the turnaround of the company. He began just one year after the company was close to filing for bankruptcy protection.
Knudstorp will take over the new Lego Brand Group of the company, while the family will start becoming more active in activities that are brand related, such as the group’s Merlin Entertainment stake.
Merlin is the operator of the theme parks Legoland and of Lego Education that is used in many schools.
Lego, which last year had revenue of more than 35.7 billion Danish Crowns equal to $5.2 billion, is battling with Mattel the maker of Barbie dolls to become the biggest toymaker in the world. Lego has been helped by its entrance into movies, smartphone apps and video games.
Lego announced that its new brand group would help it to reap the still untapped potential in its LEGO brand.
Thomas Kirk Kristiansen, part of the fourth generation of owners of the LEGO Group, said that with the company’s recent growth and its globalization comes new and very exciting opportunities for its brand and the LEGO Brand Group has been established to look into all the new opportunities we have been presented.
Under quirky, extrovert CEO Knudstorp, the Lego brand overtook Hasbro the maker of My Little Pony to become the second largest toymaker in the world.
After becoming the CEO during 2004, he decided to revive the core business at Lego, by firing a number of consultants and by hiring a team of new designers to design products that were higher margin and up to date, but still had the same look as the previous Lego.
Lego is an abbreviation for leg godt in Danish, which means play well.