Football: China factory works overtime to churn out World Cup flags

JINHUA, China (REUTERS) - Business is not as robust as it was before the 2010 World Cup but running a factory whirring round the clock to produce five million flags before this year's tournament in Brazil, Li Meihua has little time to mourn a decline in demand.

She owns the factory in eastern China's Zhejiang province that has produced flags for the World Cup and European Championship since 1999, with most orders coming from Europe.

"We have received orders for about five million flags. About less than 20 per cent of orders are from Brazil. Orders from Germany and UK are pretty huge, taking up 80 per cent of all the orders," she told Reuters TV.

Sales for her Jinhua factory this year reached up to eight million yuan (S$1.65 million) and she said it could have been better but for a global financial crisis.

"Our sales of flags this year, not as good as (for) South Africa (in 2010), is expected to decrease by between 10 to 15 per cent. Economic depression in Brazil would be a major reason for that," she said.

Li received the first orders for the 2014 World Cup early last year from a Brazilian client for about two million flags, followed by orders from Europe last September.

Hu Ailan, who has worked at the factory for more than seven years, was expecting more orders in the next couple of months.

"We are much busier. Now we have to work on many countries' national flags. We need to work overtime and we are much busier than before because of the upcoming Brazil World Cup," she said.

The World Cup kicks off on June 12 with the opening match in Sao Paulo between Brazil and Croatia.