press coverage surrounding the lack of Welsh language at the Trago Mills store
in Merthyr Tydfil, and some of the statements made by the company about the
language, the Welsh Language Commissioner outlined the work her office has done
to encourage the company to use the language.
In the first
place, the Commissioner outlined the background of the matter and the correspondence
between her office and the company:
The Commissioner received several complaints from customers about the lack of Welsh signs in the shop during May 2018.
- On 24 May 2018, the Commissioner wrote to the company to draw attention to the complaints, and explained that a team within her office is working with businesses to encourage the use of the Welsh language on a voluntary basis and offered guidance, practical advice and support to the company to develop their use of Welsh. She shared research which shows that using Welsh in shops makes good business sense and is beneficial in developing relationships with customers and the wider community.
- The Commissioner received a response to her letter on 25 May 2018 by the Chair of the company expressing personal opinions about the value of the Welsh language, Welsh-medium education, etc.
- On 13 June 2018 the Commissioner wrote to the company again. She acknowledged that the company chair may have personal opinions and feelings about the Welsh language, but was eager to bring to his attention research which shows that there is a very strong business case for using the Welsh language in Wales. She reiterated her offer of practical support to help them introduce Welsh Welsh to their shop, and to proofread Welsh language signage free of charge
- The Commissioner received a reply to this letter on 25 June, echoing the remarks made in the first letter.
In response to public statements about this matter, a spokesperson for
the Welsh Language Commissioner said:
“Research shows that customers – in all parts of Wales, Welsh speakers
and non-Welsh speakers alike, value businesses using the Welsh language. The
statistics in favour of the language are robust, with 80% agreeing that
using Welsh shows respect to the community and 86% agreeing that it shows
respect to the Welsh culture
“We work with businesses to develop their use of the Welsh
language on a voluntary basis. We can offer guidance, advice and practical
support, and have a proven track record of working successfully with some of
the biggest retailers in the UK.
"We have offered
to help Trago Mills to develop their use of the language, and this offer stands."