In a business report published this week, many of the high street’s biggest names have announced that using Welsh is a way of expanding their business’ in Wales. In the report, Using the Welsh Language - the business case, large retailers including Boots, Santander, BT, Lidl and Marks and Spencers have said that using Welsh attracts new customers.
Over the past few months the Welsh Language Commission’s Hybu team (which means to promote) have surveyed large, medium and small companies in Wales, about their opinions on the value of using Welsh. In the report a clear majority said that using Welsh was a benefit to their business. The Hybu team specialises in providing support to businesses and charities to develop the use of Welsh language in business.
Recent findings from the National Survey for Wales showed that 86% of people who lived in Wales, believed that the Welsh language was something to be proud of; and 62% of those who didn’t speak Welsh, would like to be able to do so. With growing evidence showing that an increasing number of people in Wales are proud of their language and heritage, companies such as Marks and Spencers are working towards creating a Welsh environment in their Welsh based stores. John Turner, Marks and Spencers’ Head of Region said:
“There is no doubt that Welsh language services are a customer requirement in some locations and that we need to meet their expectation regardless of the approach any competitor may take. It may not always be easy explaining this to my colleagues outside Wales, however evidence shows how the Welsh language is a benefit to our reputation and that it can win more customers in many of our stores."
One of Britain’s largest beauty retailers recognised that using Welsh adds value to a product or service. In the report, Using the Welsh Language - the business case Andy Francis, Boots head of customer experience said;
"As a large employer in Wales with 120 stores, we’re always looking to develop and explore new opportunities in order to answer the needs of our customers. In terms of promoting the use of the Welsh language within our organisation, we’ve introduced various services including bilingual signage within our stores and having the ‘Iaith Gwaith’ badge on relevant staff name badges.”
The Hybu team have organised a series of business breakfasts around Wales to discuss the report’s findings. In the business breakfasts, held in Cardiff, Aberystwyth and Colwyn Bay, many prominent business leaders in Wales will be taking part. They will be discussing how Welsh has attracted more customers to their business, and how it’s added a value to their product or service.
Gethin Edwards leads the Hybu team’s work. He said: “Research shows that Welsh and non-Welsh speaking customers across Wales value businesses using the Welsh language. This new research also shows that businesses themselves see the worth in investing in the Welsh language. What is encouraging is that the research report shows that there is a growing appetite to use Welsh as a commercial tool and to stand out in a competitive market.”