Denmark-based global toymaker the Lego Group has prioritized China in its big expansion plans to further tap into key markets, Julia Goldin, the group's global chief product and marketing officer, has said.
Lego plans to open another 80 new brand retail stores in China in 2023 amid a rapidly growing demand for its colored plastic bricks among children and adults alike, Goldin told Xinhua in an interview during the Web Summit, an annual gathering of tech leaders and entrepreneurs in Lisbon, Portugal.
"China is a very, very important market for us. We still see tremendous potential. We have been investing and expanding our business and connecting with more and more people and consumers in China over the last few years, and we will continue on that path," she said.
Her remarks came before the opening of the fifth China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai, which has gathered many of the world's top 500 enterprises and industry giants.
At the CIIE, the group revealed its most extensive line-up of novelties inspired by Chinese culture, including five new Lego sets featuring elements such as the Lunar New Year and the Monkey King.
Founded in Billund, Denmark, in 1932, the group got its name from two Danish words, "leg godt," meaning "play well." Today, its products are sold in more than 130 countries worldwide.
The group has been pressing ahead with its strategic investment in China over the past decade and has achieved strong double-digit growth in recent years.
In 2021, with solid sales and new store openings in China, Lego's sales jumped 27 percent. Of its 165 new brick-and-mortar stores that opened last year, more than 90 were in China.
"We will continue with our big global expansion plans in our key markets, with China being one of our top priorities," she said.
It has opened over 380 Lego brand retail stores in 105 cities across China, compared with 60 stores in 18 cities in 2018. It announced expansions to its manufacturing capacity in East China's Zhejiang in January 2022 to support long-term growth in the region.
Now Lego has hit major e-commerce platforms in China, such as Tmall, with its products gaining traction on Chinese social media, including short video platform Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok.
"We are also super excited because, in addition to our presence on Tmall, which we launched in 2020, we will launch our first store on Douyin. That's another really exciting development for us to be able to touch as many people as possible," Goldin said.
This represents the fifth consecutive year the company debuted novelties with rich Chinese elements at the expo.
"We also have great plans for our products portfolio ... That's really exciting because we're able to pay homage to Chinese culture and create something that truly engages and is very relevant for kids and for people in China. It taps into their history and their roots but in a modern and innovative way."
In addition to new store openings, the group plans to create meaningful experiences and enable shoppers and families to connect further with the brand.
"We will also continue with our innovative products to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year. We are very excited about the year of the rabbit. We also have investments in Legoland parks. There are parks being built in Shanghai, Chengdu and Shenzhen," Goldin said.