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LEGO Chairman did not expect to find new CEO so quickly

The replacement of outgoing LEGO Group CEO Bali Padda with Niels Christiansen is down to age rather than performance according to the LEGO Group’s chairman.

Speaking to the Financial Times, LEGO Chairman Jorgen Vig Knudstorp explained that Bali Padda has always been intended to be in the role for an interim period due to his age, with Niels Christiansen being a decade younger. The search had been expected to take longer than a year, but Christiansen was considered the right person for the role.

“It isn’t [a humiliation]. He’s definitely not disappointed us. Bali knew that I would immediately look for a successor. Both Bali and I thought it would take a long time as it’s not a trivial matter. I was just very fortunate that, relatively early, we found the right person,” Mr Knudstorp said.

The new chief executive at the privately owned Danish company will have to deal with a slowdown in growth after more than a decade of stellar increases in revenues that brought the maker of plastic bricks to within spitting distance of overtaking Mattel, the US owner of Barbie, Hot Wheels and Monster High, as the biggest seller of toys.

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It is suggests that this concern over performance could have been what led to the swift change in leadership.

David Robertson, author of the book “Brick by Brick” which charts Lego’s success, said last year’s poor operational performance could have played a role in Mr Padda’s short tenure at the top. “Lego is a very performance-oriented company, and it may be that the company decided that it was time to make a change by letting go the person who was in charge of operations during the worst operational crisis of the past decade.”

Christiansen will take on the role from October 1.

He resigned from Danfoss in March, saying it was time for a new challenge, and Mr Knudstorp said that speeded up the process for Lego. “He is one of the strongest CEOs of his generation and has made a remarkable turnround in Danfoss, taking it from industrial technology to digital technology,” Mr Knudstorp said.

Expectations will be high that sales will improve with the incoming CEO, after the recent slump in growth that seems to be causing concern within the LEGO Group.

LEGO SYSTEM A/S

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