Danish toymaker Lego has opened a factory in China, its first production facility on the Asian continent. Some economists question whether it can succeed, given the vast number of knockoff products crowding the market.
Lego's first Asian factory opened in eastern Zhejiang province, China, on Friday. It's expected to supply up to 80 percent of the products the Danish company sells in the booming Asian market.
"The operation of the factory allows us to get closer to China, which is one of the fastest-growing markets in the world, and react to adjustments to offer a better and more efficient service to local consumers," said Richard Wong, general manager of Asia manufacturing at Lego.
But Lego won't be the only manufacturer churning out colorful building blocks. A variety of knockoff products are already swamping the Chinese market, prompting some economists to question the new factory's prospects.
Earlier this year, Lego inaugurated its then-largest retail store in the world in Shanghai. It has updated its figurines to include dragons and ninjas, in a bid to boost its toys' appeal to Asian buyers.
The news plant in the city of Jiaxing will employ 1,200 people. It represents an investment of more than 100 million euros ($106 million).
On its way to becoming the most sustainable plant Lego has ever built, the factory is in the process of getting 20,000 solar panels installed on its roof over the coming few months. They will eventually reduce the plant's carbon dioxide emissions by more than 4,000 metric tons annually, and provide 7 percent of the factory's total electricity.
hg/nz (Reuters, AFP)