Floral businesses face staff shortage, supply disruptions and drop in revenue

27 May 2020 / 15:12 H.

PETALING JAYA: Loosening of restrictions during the conditional movement control order (CMCO) has brought little relief to the floral industry. However, many dealers saw a slight increase in sales as gifts were sought for Mother’s Day.

Cameron Highlands Floriculturists Association president Lee Peng Fo said demand for flowers had declined severely, with little sign of it going up again.

“Orders had dropped down to 20% or 30% of what we used to get before the MCO. There has not been much of a difference during the CMCO.

“However, sales have picked up slightly earlier this month because of Mother’s Day on May 10,” he told theSun yesterday.

Lee, who supplies mostly to florists in Kuala Lumpur, said recent limitations on hiring foreign workers have also caused a serious problem.

“Cameron Highlands is lacking about 5,000 to 6,000 workers and we are affected too. Locals have not filled up the jobs as farming is hard work and the pay is low,” he said.

Kelvin Teh, sales manager of flower wholesaler, said his company had lost most of its orders from the tourism and events industry.

“We as wholesalers have lost about 90% of our sales to hotels, companies and for events,” he said.

“We’ve also had a hard time getting supply as local farmers have import customers who they service first before delivering the remainder to us. Meanwhile, our international supplies have also been affected due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We’ve also had shipments that were wasted as we could not operate during the first two stages of the MCO. However, florists may have fared better, as gift flowers have been a great way to show love during the MCO.”

A florist, who wished to be known only as Catherine, said her shop had reopened during the third phase of the MCO but saw lower revenue.

“We could not operate during the first two phases due to restrictions,” she said.

“It’s also hard to get fresh flowers, so we are recommending the use of preserved flowers that can be stored longer.”

Alice Yeoh, a customer service manager at a florist that specialises in online deliveries, said the CMCO had been much kinder to her than the previous version of restrictions.

“Things got much better during the CMCO and we are lucky that it happened during the Mother’s Day period,” she said.

“As there are more local and imported flowers during CMCO, we can offer most of our flower designs to customers. This helped to increase sales.

“When out of fresh flowers, we manage to source artificial flowers, fruits and cakes to provide our customers more gift options for their loved ones.”

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