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Lego CFO: Toy sales unfazed by slowdown

Kids still want to play with Lego despite tech: CFO
Kids still want to play with Lego despite tech: CFO

The toy industry saw a pick-up in sales in the first half of the year despite a slowing global economy, and is expected to remain strong as the holidays approach, according to the chief financial officer of the world's largest toy maker.

There appears to be little correlation with underlying economic developments and consumer spending power when it comes to toys, Lego Group CFO John Goodwin told CNBC, after the group posted double digit sales growth for the first half of the year.

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Lego sculptures are displayed before the opening of the new Lego store in New York, September 2014
Michael Nagle I Bloomberg via Getty Images

"Often when the environment is very pinched at home, you may cut back on that second vacation but what you want to do is still keep your children entertained, you still want to keep them growing – so toys are not really one of those things where you see a pull-back," Goodwin said.

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Lego announced sales jumped 11 percent in the first six months of this year to just over $2 billion, fueled by the release of The Lego Movie, making the Danish brick builder the largest toy maker in the world for the first time. The boost from the film propelled Lego past Barbie maker Mattel.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) downgraded its outlook for global economic growth on Tuesday, citing persistent weakness in the euro zone and a broad slowdown in several major emerging markets.

The IMF said it expects the global economy to grow by 3.8 percent next year, down from its July forecast of 4 percent.

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At the same time, the National Retail Federation forecast U.S. retail sales in November and December are set to grow by 4.1 percent, up from 2013's actual 3.1 percent increase over the same period.

"Retailers could see a welcome boost in holiday shopping, giving some companies the shot in the arm they need after a volatile first half of the year and an uneventful summer," said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay in a statement on Tuesday.

"We have seen a little bit of a pick up in the toy industry in totality in the first half of this year, so I think what is difficult to correlate is the underlying economic development versus the actual consumer purchasing behaviour when it comes to toys and playing materials," Goodwin said.

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Currently 75 percent owned by the Kristiansen family and 25 percent owned by a charitable trust, Goodwin said the family is "very pleased with their ownership of the brand" and a public offering was not something that was being considered.

"It (the ownership) is very much in line with what the company stands for in terms of its long term mission and aim – in terms of developing children all around the world, so they are very happy with the ownership," he added.