Toymaker Lego's profits rise 9% on strong China sales

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Media captionThe Lego movie has topped American box office charts for the last three weeks

Danish toymaker Lego's profits rose 9% to 6.12 bn kroner ($1.12bn; £673m) in 2013 as the firm expands beyond its signature building blocks.

Rising sales were helped by increasing demand from China, which Lego highlighted as a future "core market".

The privately-held firm, which only reports profits annually, also said it hired 1,355 workers.

Profits from the hugely successful Lego movie were not included.

Lego is the world's second largest toymaker, behind Mattel, the maker of Barbie.

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Media captionJorgen Vig Knudstorp, CEO of Lego, said he was ''very excited'' about Lego's foray into the world of films

Hollywood help

Lego's profits have been slowing recently as demand in Europe and North America has weakened.

In 2012, net profit grew 35%, compared to 9% this year, and the firm has looked to Asia to help boost sales in the future.

"During the coming years the Lego Group expects to grow moderately ahead of the global toy market that is expected to grow low single digits," said Lego in its annual report.

Slowing growth in toy sales is one reason the firm has looked beyond building blocks to other areas of revenue, like "The Lego Movie".

Released in February, the film has been a surprise hit - holding the top US box office slot for more than three weeks and earning an estimated $183.2m thus far.

Film studio Warner Brothers has already said it plans to release a sequel in 2017.

Anything you can imagine

However, Lego chief executive Jorgen Vig Knudstorp downplayed the success of the film in an interview with the BBC.

"I don't think we'll see a huge tidal wave of Lego movies - I don't think it would be the right way to represent the brand," said Mr Knudstorp.

Mr Knudstorp said Lego planned to invest a good portion of its profits back into the business by opening new facilities in London, Shanghai, and Singapore, as well as on new product development.

Despite the success of the film and Lego's efforts to expand, Mr Knudstorp said the firm remained focused on its core brand.

"You take these pieces, you put them can build anything you can possibly imagine," he said.

"Sticking with that and doing it consistently worldwide is the secret of this business."

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