Iceland apologises after supermarket director calls Welsh language 'gibberish'

The supermarket's headquarters are based in Deeside, north Wales.

Iceland has issued an apology after one of its directors reportedly labelled the Welsh language "gibberish".

The supermarket, which is headquartered in Deeside in Wales, insisted that a series of statements made by the director of corporate affairs did not "reflect" the company’s views.The statement was reportedly made in a personal blog, now privatised, in which it is also alleged that he has previously compared the language to the sound of "someone clearing their throat".

The director, Keith Hann, has also been accused of tweeting that "inhabitants of the UK’s Celtic fringe loathe all visitors", referring to people travelling to Wales.A spokesperson for Iceland has now apologised for any offence caused by the comments and said they are not reflective of the brand.Mr Hann has a history of criticism for his views on Wales and its language.

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In June 2019 he said that "I’d like to say that I have never left England, but regular attendance at an office about 800 yards inside Wales sadly precludes this.

"Still, I take pride in never visiting Scotland despite having a home within sight of the border."

In a 2014 blog post, he said that "supermarket signage" in Wales was “incomprehensible” and that children were educated in a "dead language that sounds uncannily like someone with bad catarrh clearing his throat".

In another post, he said he regrets the fact that his house is not far from the Welsh border.

He wrote: "I regret to say that we are also only about two miles from Wales, thanks to the border lurching east from the natural boundary of the River Dee, and taking a bite out of England that can only have been designed for the convenience of manufacturers of jigsaw puzzles".

He also added that if he moved over the border that his son “would be having part of his education conducted in gibberish".

In 2018, protestors from Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (the Welsh Language Society) disrupted the official opening of a new branch in Rhyl over Iceland's English-only signage policy.

Mr Hann's comments have sparked some calls for Welsh independence, with several shoppers saying on social media that they will now be boycotting the chain.

In a statement, an Iceland spokesperson said: "Iceland is aware of comments made by our director of corporate affairs and the upset which these have caused.

"These comments are not reflective in any way of Iceland's views or philosophy as a company, and were not made on the company’s behalf.

"We are proud to be based in Wales, as a major investor and employer in the country. The matter is being dealt with internally and we apologise for any upset or offence caused".