Taiwan's Christmas King grapples with a slide in overseas demand for decorations

Staff produce parts of a Christmas tree at the factory of Lien Teng Enterprise in Taichung, Taiwan, Dec 4, 2020.
PHOTO: Reuters

TAICHUNG, Taiwan - It’s unseasonably quiet at Harlan Tsai’s factory, which has been churning out Christmas trees, wreaths and snow angels for more than three decades.

Normally, around 30 employees at the Lien Teng Enterprise factory in Taichung, central Taiwan would be making over 10,000 trees. But this year, clients have slashed orders in anticipation of a huge slide in demand due to the coronavirus pandemic and the factory has had to cut back staff to fewer than 10.

An employee prepares a Christmas tree to be packed at the factory of Lien Teng Enterprise in Taichung, Taiwan, Dec 4, 2020. 
PHOTO: Reuters

“We have lost half or more of our exports to Europe and the Americas,” said Tsai, known in Taiwan as the Christmas King.

The lack of overseas orders has prompted the company to look domestically. While few Taiwanese celebrate Christmas, it supplies decorations to shopping malls and major landmarks. With the island relatively unscathed by the virus, Tsai says demand has been quite stable.

Employees make Christmas trees at the factory of Lien Teng Enterprise in Taichung, Taiwan, Dec 4, 2020. 
PHOTO: Reuters

At a wholesale shop selling products from Lien Teng Enterprise last week, a steady stream of customers perused the offerings of festive baubles and fake pines in every imaginable hue.

A customer tries to decide which decoration to purchase at the salesroom of Lien Teng Enterprise in Taichung, Taiwan, Dec 4, 2020. 
PHOTO: Reuters

“We cannot travel overseas, so we came here today to check out if there are wholesale products in Taiwan,” said Wu Ming Teng, a Christmas product retailer.