Lego CEO steps down as Danish firm rearranges the bricks

Lego CEO Jorgen Vig Knudstorp is handing the reins to long-standing Lego man and current COO Bali Padda

While Lego's reshuffle does not mean heads will roll, but it may see the company move in a new direction

By the end of 2016, the building block legends at Lego will have new a new leader. Current CEO Jorgen Vig Knudstorp will be stepping down in favour of COO Bali Padd.

Knudstorp was appointed CEO in 2004, after the company founder’s grandson Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen handed over the reins following 25 years in charge. His appointment was the first non-family position, which marked a major turnaround at the company and sparked a decade of innovation and success. A former McKinsey & Co consultant, Knudstorp pulled Lego out of a downward spiral with the introduction of research teams and a financial governance makeover. His efforts bolstered commendable success at the company, boosting revenue five-fold by 2015.

Lego has demonstrated its persistent strength, overtaking major competitors such as Hasbro and Mattel

In addressing the move, Knudstorp shared his excitement for the future of the company: “I really look forward to this new challenge together with Thomas. I have enjoyed being the CEO of this great company, because I have a lifelong passion for the Lego idea. The role and the job have changed very much over these years, and this is the natural next step, as I am a firm believer in the value of active family ownership.”

The perennially faddish toy industry is one of the hardest to break into and remain on top in. Lego has demonstrated its persistent strength, overtaking major competitors such as Hasbro and Mattel, to earn a stellar reputation as the world’s most profitable toy manufacturer. Last year, the privately listed company reported a net profit of €1.23bn.

The Kristiansen family have traditionally held majority ownership in the company. This is the extended family of founder Ole Kirk Kristiansen, who began making wooden toys back in 1932. The first iconic bricks that created the snap together personality of the brand were created in 1949 in the small town that Lego still calls home: Billund, Denmark.

The company has been clear that the move will be in line with their family values and will maintain Kristiansen-family ownership. Knudstorp will be moving horizontally within the company to head up the new division, Lego Brand Group. He will work alongside Thomas Kirk Kristiansen to facilitate and oversee the governance of all Lego brand-related activities.

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