Lego admits ‘mistake’ in Ai Weiwei bricks row

Lego billionaire Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen has admitted that the Danish toymaker's refusal to sell bricks to dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was a "mistake".

Lego admits 'mistake' in Ai Weiwei bricks row
Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen admitted the Ai Weiwei mistake as he handed the company's reins to his son Thomas Kirk Kristiansen. Photo: Lego
The company found itself at the centre of a social media storm last year after Ai said Lego had refused his order of the famous children's building blocks as they would be “used for political works”.
Lego's deputy chairman, the grandson of the company's founder, said the decision to deny the artist a bulk order had been due to “an internal mistake.”
The order, which Ai planned to use for a show in Australia, had been rejected “very low in the organization by our consumer service department,” Kirk Kristiansen told The Wall Street Journal in an interview published on Thursday.
In January, Lego said it would no longer ask what its bricks would be used for when making bulk sales, and that customers displaying their Lego creations in public would instead be asked to make it clear “that the Lego Group does not support or endorse the specific projects”.
Ai has been targeted by Chinese authorities for his advocacy of democracy and human rights as well as other criticisms of the government.
Meanwhile, the family-owned Lego group moved to hand over more power to fourth-generation heir Thomas Kirk Kristiansen, who will take over from his father Kjeld as deputy chairman.
“I am very pleased to say that we are now ready to take certain important steps toward the smooth generational handover that will continue to maintain active family ownership of the Lego Group,” Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen said in a statement on Wednesday.
His 37-year-old son will also replace him as chairman of the Lego Foundation, which owns 25 percent of the Lego Group, but he will remain chairman of family holding company and majority owner Kirkbi.
Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen is ranked the world's 65th richest man according to Forbes magazine, with an estimated fortune of about €11.4 billion ($13.1 billion).

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Denmark’s toy giant Lego offers staff bonus after bumper year

Danish toymaker Lego, the world's largest toymaker, Denmark's Lego, said on Tuesday it will offer its 20,000 employees three extra days of holiday and a special bonus after a year of bumper revenues.

Lego is rewarding staff with a Christmas bonus and extra holiday after a strong 2022.
Lego is rewarding staff with a Christmas bonus and extra holiday after a strong 2022. File photo: Ida Guldbæk Arentsen/Ritzau Scanpix

Already popular globally, Lego has seen demand for its signature plastic bricks soar during the pandemic alongside its rapid expansion in China.

“The owner family wishes to… thank all colleagues with an extra three days off at the end of 2021,” the company said in a statement.

The unlisted family group reported a net profit of more than 6.3 billion Danish kroner (847 million euros) for the first half of 2021.

Revenues shot up 46 percent to 23 billion kroner in the same period.

It had been “an extraordinary year for the Lego Group and our colleagues have worked incredibly hard,” said the statement, which added that an unspecified special bonus would be paid to staff in April 2022.

Lego, a contraction of the Danish for “play well” (leg godt), was founded in 1932 by Kirk Kristiansen, whose family still controls the group which employs about 20,400 people in 40 countries.

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