There were a couple of stories in the press during 2019 which questioned The Original Factory Shop’s attitude towards the Welsh Language. This led to the Welsh Language Commissioner’s Hybu Team offering the company some support and ideas.
Jane Edwards, Hybu Team Officer at Welsh Language Commissioner, shares her experience working with the company.
“Following stories in the press, we wanted to have a discussion with The Original Factory Shop store in Pwllheli about their attitude to the Welsh language. The company sells beauty products, footwear, items for the home, electrical items and big brands at a discounted price. They have 16 branches in Wales.
I contacted their headquarters, and offered guidance on their language provision. I emphasised to them that Pwllheli was a Welsh language heartland, and that three quarters of their staff spoke Welsh.
Their headquarters are in Burnley, and their understanding of the situation in Wales was scarce. I was keen to emphasise all the benefits that come from using Welsh for businesses in Wales. Between the creative ideas, strategic planning and practical support, we were able to outline a clear way forward for the business.
Since we intervened, the Original Factory Shop is committed to improving their Welsh language service and we are in regular contact with them. Their staff are now encouraged to wear Iaith Gwaith badges (the orange speech bubble). Over Christmas, a number of bilingual messages were posted on their social media, as well as bilingual signs in their stores saying ‘Nadolig Llawen’, Merry Christmas in Welsh. They now also intend to include a message saying thank you, ‘Diolch yn fawr’, on their receipts.
They want to develop their Welsh language provision further, and the small gestures are starting to make a difference.
I am pleased that we have been able to influence them, and that the language is now visible in The Original Factory Shop’s branches in Wales. We will continue to work with the company to ensure that they have a long-term plan to support the Welsh language in their stores across Wales.
A spokesperson on behalf of The Original Factory Shop said:
“Customers who visit our local Facebook pages will see us posting in Welsh and we have exciting plans in place to celebrate St Dwynwen’s Day and Dewi Sant with customers in our local stores. We will also be getting involved with the Welsh Language Music Day thanks to our great locations on the local high streets and we are planning for how we can promote Eisteddfod ahead of its arrival in Pwllheli next year.”