Lego on Tuesday reported a 6% global sales increase and said it was stepping up investment in its retail and digital businesses to fuel long-term growth.

The world’s biggest toy maker in terms of sales said revenue rose to 14.8 billion kroner ($2.2 billion) in the first half of 2019, with toys linked to the Marvel Avengers films and the Lego Movie sequel selling particularly well.

Consumer sales in established markets such as the Americas and Western Europe grew single digits while China, a strategic growth market for the company, continued its strong double-digit growth.

Operating profits fell 16% to 3.5 billion kroner ($520 million) as the company invested in its web operation and prepared for a store opening spree in emerging markets including China and India.

“We are satisfied with our performance given the transformative shifts which continue to reshape the global toy industry,” CEO Neils Christiansen said in a news release. “Against this backdrop, we continue to grow consumer sales and market share in our largest markets.”

As The Guardian reports, “Lego was forced into a rethink in 2017 after it suffered a rare slump in sales and profits, and had to ax 1,400 jobs. The toy industry is battling the rise of digital devices that contributed to last year’s collapse of Toys R Us.”

The company has been investing in “digital play experiences” such as the Hidden Side series that combines its plastic bricks with an augmented reality app.

Christiansen said Lego was “making upfront investments to create a strong foundation from which to grow in the long term and inspire future generations.” They include upgrading its ecommerce platforms and opening more than 70 Lego stores outside of China during 2019.

“With weaker chains going under, Lego realizes it now needs to invest more in its own store and e-commerce strategy, rather than rely so much on wholesale partners,” CNBC said, noting that its “expansion comes as America’s malls are hungry for tenants, with store closures continuing to mount and on pace to break a record by the time the year is over.”

Photo by Juancho Torres/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

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