- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 1, 2006

COPENHAGEN (AP) — Children hoping to get Lego toys for Christmas may be in for a disappointment.

The Danish toy maker is having a hard time keeping up with demand for its popular plastic building blocks as toy stores stack their inventories for the Christmas season, company officials said Tuesday.

“Many of our most popular products are sold out,” Lego spokeswoman Charlotte Simonsen said. “As part of efforts to restructure the company and focus on our core business, we had to make some cuts and the company has not had time to readjust its production.”

Miss Simonsen declined to say how many orders had been turned down, but said the restructuring changes had affected the production of “Duplo” bricks and boxes with “Lego City,” “Star Wars” and “Lego Technik” sets.

The Billund, Denmark, group has been trimming its staff at home and abroad since starting a restructuring program four years ago. Part of its production and distribution has been moved to countries with lower wages than Denmark, including the Czech Republic and Mexico.

In 2005, Lego sold its four Legoland amusement parks in Denmark, Britain, California and Germany to U.S. private-equity group Blackstone Capital Partners.

Boersen, Denmark’s leading financial newspaper, estimated that Lego could lose $127 million because of lost Christmas sales.

But Mads Nipper, a vice president at Lego in charge of marketing, said that figure was too high.

“We don’t know what the Christmas sales will be like until Christmas is over,” Mr. Nipper said.

The group posted a net profit of $86 million in 2005 on strong sales led by its Bionicle line of snap-together creatures.

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