Don’t loose sight of profits and cash flows – how Lego revived its outlook
The Danish toy company Lego, has had to do a bit of re-building of late, according to Time (June 7th, 2010). Lego has been around since 1932 and has given many generations endless hours of fun (or peace if your a parent!). The product was created by an unemployed Danish carpenter (Ole Kirk Christiansen) and he patented it in 1958. Today, as anyone with kids knows, there are so many high-tech toys that compete with traditional toys like Lego, which has education and learning at its heart. This in fact was one of the contributors to Lego making large losses (e.g. $450 million in 2004) – focusing too much on the educational value of its 14,000 unique stock items. In 2004, a new CEO Jorgen Knudstorp, took the helm. He quickly reinvigorated the company by not forgetting one of the basic lessons of accounting and managing a business – the bottom line counts. There were lay-offs, plant closures and new licensing deals (Star Wars, Harry Potter for example) and some efforts to adapt the product to the digital age e.g. an online website where children can design their own creation and order a physical copy. The result – profits were $440 million in 2009. So don’t forget, now matter how good your product or service is, it can only survive if the bottom line is positive and generating cash!