French flag producers are seeing an exceptional spike in Ukrainian flag orders as the population moves to show solidarity and support for the Ukrainian people amid the ongoing Russian invasion.
Three companies told The Connexion of thousands of orders from private clients and public institutions across the country, a sharp contrast with the usual handful of orders they would deliver under different circumstances.
The company spokespeople were only available for a limited amount of time, saying they were “swamped” by orders.
The spike in demand has forced industry professionals to re-order materials, hire additional workers and extend worker hours. In some cases it has also created strain on raw material supply and delivery turnarounds.
Companies said order spikes are usually characteristic of national sporting events such as the FIFA World Cup.
“I have never seen such a number of orders for a single country in such a short period of time,” said Erwan de Leissegues, sales manager at Drapeaux Dejean Marine, a company producing flags since 1923 and based in Bordeaux.
Mr de Leissegues said he produces from 50 to 100 Ukrainian flags a day, having seen a surge in demand from the first day of the conflict on February 24.
He said mairies in the region were the first to purchase flags before associations and private individuals followed suit.
Mr de Leissegues said the Ukrainian flag was the company's most sought after product. Drapeaux Dejean Marine’s most ordered flags are normally the French, the European and regional flags of Corsica, Brittany and Basque Country.
A first since World Cup and Paris terror attacks
Philippe Legrand is the director of Abeille drapeaux, a manufacturer based in Paris which provides flags for the Elysée Palace, the French Senate, ministry departments, mairies and also public organisations and film producers.
Abeille drapeaux is renowned for its ‘Prestige’ flag, a 1x1,5metre standard.
Mr Legrand said the increase in Ukrainian flag orders was “incalculable”, joking at a kajillion “10,000%” rise in comparison to the usual 20 Ukrainian flags a year he would produce before the beginning of the Russian invasion.
Borney, a French company making flags and based in Northern France, has produced more than a thousand Ukrainian flags since the beginning of the war over two weeks ago.
Borney normally sells between four and five Ukrainian flags annually, Philippe Peigney, the company’s sales manager, told The Connexion.
Mr Peigney said the company supplies all sorts of clients around France from private individuals to communities, mayors and business offices. It sells flags of various sizes ranging from €6.50 to €50.
Mr Peigney said the last time the company saw a surge in sales was ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup final between France and Croatia with orders for French flags jumping massively.
Mr de Leissegues said he has not seen such a spike in production since the terror attacks in Paris on November 13, 2015.
“We cannot keep up with the demand,” said Mr Legrand, adding the company has to produce from 1,000 to 2,000 flags a day.
He has had to extend delivery-time from 36 to 96 hours, as he is now unable to deliver within the company’s usual 24-hour window.
Mr Legrand also said the war in Ukraine has put a strain on raw material deliveries, including textiles, wood for flagpoles, steel and polyester, since France assumed the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union on January 1.
Borney has reorganised its production line to meet demand and deliver flags within two days instead of the average eight.
Borney takes orders in the morning before production during the afternoon. The flags are then sewn the morning after to be delivered by the end of the afternoon or the day after that.
The company has not hired additional workforce, relying on its dressmakers working an extra three hours a day during the morning.
Drapeaux Dejean Marine, on the other hand, has added overtime hours for its dressmakers and hired three additional workers to keep up with the flow of orders. Mr de Leissegues said he has delayed Ukrainian flag deliveries to keep up with other orders.
“We stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian people. It is good that our company produces flags but we would like the war to stop,” said Mr Peigney.