Lego hires new chief to build on digital transformation

legoLego Group is aiming to accelerate its digital transformation with appointment of a new chief digital and technology officer who has vowed to “unleash the potential of tech and data” at the plastic bricks giant.

The American-Danish toy company has come a long way since it was founded in Denmark in 1932 but after a period of rapid expansion from 1970 to 1991, Lego saw a decline in revenue, and by 2004, it was on the verge of bankruptcy.

At that point, Lego became one of the first businesses to embark on a major digital transformation programme aimed at diversifying sources of revenue from mobile and film applications, among many others, and is now the world’s largest toy company by revenue.

The strategy has paid dividends during the coronavirus pandemic. Last month, the company said it had enjoyed a sharp rise in sales during the first six months of the year, largely driven to a significant investment in its ecommerce operations last year.

Lego saw sales rise 14% despite revenues only rising 7% to £1.87bn, while operating profit rose 11% to £470m with website traffic more than doubling in the first half of the year. This helped to offset lost revenue from the closure of its 616 stores during lockdown.

The company now wants to kick on the strategy and has hired former Tesco chief information officer Atul Bhardwaj to head up the tech division as executive vice president.

Bhardwaj started his career at Accenture, joining as a graduate in 1990 and staying for 17 years before switching to Tesco where he was group CIO for over a decade.

He joins Lego from electronics retailer The MediaMarktSaturn Retail Group, where he has been CTO since 2018, and succeeds Belgian Jean-Jacques Van Oosten, who was lured back to lead Kingfisher’s digital transformation after just nine months in the role.

Bhardwaj said: “I am looking forward to working with the team to unleash the potential of technology and data to help the Lego Group inspire even more builders of tomorrow, now and for generations to come.”

Lego chief executive Niels Christiansen added: “As we accelerate our digital transformation, Atul’s global experience, proven track record and expertise driving change will be invaluable.

“He brings to role decades of experience working at the forefront of digital transformation with some of the world’s most recognised brands.”

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