Hats off – indeed, whole heads off – to Lego, which has just overtaken Hasbro to become the second biggest-selling toy company in the world. We are not surprised. An average of only 86 Lego pieces per person in the world? You couldn’t even make a decent X-wing starfighter with 86 pieces. And there must be an average of at least 12 more pieces down the back of the average sofa.
The story of how Lego recovered from near-bankruptcy a decade ago to challenge Mattel to be the toy-box top dog, is a parable not just of business but of life. The company lost its way around the turn of the century when it diversified into computer games, but got back on track by rediscovering the creativity and quality from which its reputation had been built, brick by brick, over previous decades. “What we realised is that the more we’re true to ourselves, the better we are,” said Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, Lego’s chief executive, a few years ago. In the first half of this year, he was rewarded with 13 per cent sales rise, including 35 per cent in Asia, lifting half-year profit to $550m (£352m). Now, if anyone’s seen a dark grey two-stud piece with grooves down the side, we should be most grateful.