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Feb 25, 9:49 AM EST

In year of the movie, Lego's transformation reaps rewards

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AP Photo/Matt Alexander
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COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) -- The transformation of Lego, the Danish toy company famous for its multi-colored building blocks, reaped further dividends last year as it benefited from a successful foray into the world of cinema.

The privately-owned company, which over the past few years has moved beyond its multi-colored toy blocks, said Wednesday that its sales in 2014 rose 13 percent to 28.6 billion kroner ($4.3 billion), with the product line related to the early-year release of The Lego Movie proving a "significant contributor to sales growth."

Lego isn't just about kids building a house with an assortment of blocks. As well as making movies, it has a host of popular mobile phone apps and theme parks. And its traditional business has morphed too - most children, and their parents, build things like the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars and Batman's Copter to a pre-set outline.

Lego said demand was particularly strong in its largest market, the U.S., but sales also rose by double digits in Britain, France, Russia and China. Sales are expected to grow this year too, though no forecasts were provided.

Overall, Lego saw a 15 percent increase in net profit last year to 7 billion kroner ($1 billion) and said it invested 3.1 billion kroner in 2014 to locate production closer to core markets and upgrade equipment, including in China, Mexico, Czech Republic, and its core molding plant in Denmark.

Lego doesn't release quarterly figures. It is not publicly listed but has published earnings reports since 1997. It employs 12,500 people, up from 11,750 in 2013.

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