How an old pair of sneakers made LEGO the world’s largest toy manufacturer

by Martin Lindstrom

The solution to LEGO’s problems—the thing that may have rescued it from potential bankruptcy—lay in an old pair of sneakers.

It was 2003, and the company was in trouble, having lost 30 percent of its turnover over the past year. In 2004, another 10 percent vanished. As Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, LEGO’s CEO, put it, “We are on a burning platform, losing money with negative cash flow, and at real risk of debt default which could lead to a breakup of the company.”

How had the Danish toymaker fallen so far . . .

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