Iceland has today opened their doors to a brand new supermarket on Rhyl Clwyd’s Retail Park.
During the launch, a group of campaigners from Cymdeithas yr Iaith Cymraeg, including Rhuddlan county councilor Arwel Roberts, picketed outside the main entrance over the lack of welsh language signage inside the store.
15 members of the group, protested outside Rhyl’s 2nd Iceland store, with the first store being in The White Rose Centre in Rhyl Town Centre.
David Williams, chair of the local branch of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg said:
“You must have been to a party where the family has forgotten to bring presents for the guests. Well, that’s what we’ve got today – Iceland has invited us all over, but has forgotten to bring the Welsh signs to show respect to Wales. We look forward to seeing a full Welsh language service here in the near future.
“Iceland is one of a number of examples of the lack of Welsh in the private sector – it’s foolish for the Labour Welsh Government to depend on the goodwill of these big companies which put profit before everything else. We need clear language rights and the language standards must be extended to the private sector.”
Mr Williams continued:
“One of the biggest Welsh-medium primary schools is within a quarter mile of the new shop and the law gives official status to the language in public life, although the present Labour Welsh Government is ignoring the private sector in the hope they will ‘demonstrate their goodwill’.
“So, we’re asking Iceland to show they’re not a company from outside who just want to make money out of local people, but that they take pride in their roots. We’re calling on them to make full use of the Welsh language in their new store – starting with the signs, but moving on to using both languages in their everyday services, offering a full Welsh language service to their customers.”
An Iceland spokesperson acknowledged Mr Williams comments, and replied: “Iceland has invested £800,000 in its new store on Clywd Retail Park in Rhyl, which opened today and has created 30 new jobs.
“The store is part of a new generation of Iceland stores that feature a more modern and appealing store layout and design, a new style of fascia and frontage, digital signage, LED lighting, improved in-store navigation, and new checkouts that are quicker and easier to use for customers and staff alike.
“We believe that the majority of residents in Rhyl and the surrounding area will welcome this development, which forms just part of a major programme of investment in North Wales by Iceland.
“This has included the creation of Europe’s finest retail development kitchen at our head office at Deeside, at a cost of more than £2.5 million, and the current reactivation of our Deeside depot as a full multi-temperature regional distribution centre, creating 240 new jobs.
“We do not currently provide signage in any language other than English in any of our stores in any part of the UK or Ireland. Changing this policy would add complexity and cost to our operations, and as such would be contrary to two of our foremost objectives: making everything we do as simple as possible, and delivering the best possible value to our customers.
“Feedback from our colleagues and customers in Wales indicates that the great majority are content with our current arrangements. However, our success ultimately depends on meeting the needs and desires of our customers and we do note the feelings strongly expressed in Rhyl this morning. We will continue to monitor and evaluate public opinion on this issue.”