This year, Santa's wearing blue
Forget Lapland. In Gwent 120 outsize elves toil to keep the country, and the world, in unorthodox festive decor.
Tuesday 29 August 1995
From June to October, pressure is intense to fulfil orders for trees, lights, garlands and door and table decorations, contributing to a retail market estimated at pounds 145m in Britain alone. The British family spends an average of between pounds 60 and pounds 100 on Christmas decorations and gift wrap, even post-recession, every season.
From its Newport factory, Festive Productions also exports to New Caledonia, the Middle East and west Africa. Last year, the firm dispatched pounds 100,000- worth of aerosol snow to Iceland and herds of 18in plastic "topiary" reindeer to Scandinavia.
Exports account for 15 per cent of the company's pounds 8m turnover from 2,000 separate product lines. Obversely, glass decorations from eastern Europe and more than a million hand-picked, graded and fumigated five-inch fir cones from China - alone costing pounds 50,000 - are imported for a range of door wreaths, wall and table decorations. Tree lights and others are imported mainly from Taiwan and Hong Kong.
The factory floor resembles a May festival as women seemingly perform variations on a Maypole dance, straining at arm's length from twirling, glinting garlands. They are twisting mixed-colour "spiral" designs, a new line for Sainsbury's Homebase stores. Festive Productions supplies 95 per cent of major retailers at any one time, many of which specify their own lines.
All Christmas garlands are born in tubs the size of steel drums resembling fairground candy-floss machines into which wide PVC ribbons are fed through cutters, then spun at high speed. Five minutes produces 20 metres of garland. Traditional reds, silvers and golds outsell all else, but co-ordinated themed room schemes such as the Balmoral range - tartan, tartan and more tartan - are increasingly popular, not just here but in the Middle East. Instead of a red-clad Santa, the Czarina range - popular in eastern Europe - features an exotic bearded patriarchal figure transmuted by a kind of Russian Orthodox conversion, resplendent in midnight blue satin.
Nigerians like decorations on a grand scale and opt for shopping mall- sized garlands with maximum glitter to burnish in the sun. They would no doubt warm to Festive Productions' new line in musical automated figures, such as Santas on skis. They're 24in high, but the retail price of pounds 99.99 may leave Nigerian revellers cold at a time when hard currency is still restricted.
Is your name now 'banned' in Saudi Arabia?
Oscar Pistorius trial: Photographs of Paralympian splattered in blood shown in court
Seth Rogen compiles list of all the celebrities he’s got high with
Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Satellite ‘pings sent five hours after contact was lost' the only clue in hunt for £160m plane
Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: New radar evidence suggests missing plane may have been hijacked
Katie Hopkins continues campaign to become Britain's most hated talking head with poorly timed Bob Crow tweet
No EU referendum under Labour: Ed Miliband to reveal that vote on membership is ‘unlikely’ in next Parliament if party wins power
Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
Europeans have ‘got whiter’ due to natural selection in past 5,000 years, scientists say
Fracking is turning the US into a bigger oil producer than Saudi Arabia
The rise of Ukip: Study warns Labour that Eurosceptic party's electoral base now 'more working class than any of the main parties'
- 1 Is your name now 'banned' in Saudi Arabia?
- 2 Best films on Netflix: 32 movies that will put an end to your scrolling
- 3 Saving a crushed egg with tape and glue: Why you should care about the kakapo
- 4 Istanbul protesters take 'Ellen selfie' from the back of a police van
- 5 Lady Gaga has struggled with eating disorders in the past, so it's indefensible that she's glamourising bulimia in her SXSW set
iJobs Money & Business
£35000 - £43000 per annum + Bonus and Benefits: Harrington Starr: A global lea...
£50000 - £60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Linux Systems Administrator - UNI...
£32000 - £36000 per annum + generous benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: * TAX * ...
£37000 - £40000 per annum + £20000 benefits package: Pro-Recruitment Group: **...