Mid Wales

Language row over Aberystwyth Marks and Spencer sign

M&S Foodhall at Broughton, Flintshire Image copyright Google
Image caption M&S Foodhall at Broughton, Flintshire

An application for a sign at the site of a Marks and Spencer branch due to open in spring next year has been deferred after a row over translation.

Ceredigion councillors said all signs at the planned Aberystwyth branch should be bilingual in Welsh and English.

But superstore bosses said "Foodhall" was a brand name and not translated anywhere.

M&S said it would review the planning committee's decision and respond.

It has withdrawn "Foodhall" from the application so the other signs could be granted permission and a decision on that sign will be made at a later date.

Paul Hinge, a member of the committee, said he agreed "Marks and Spencer" should not be translated but all other signs should.

"Their brand name can't be changed or you could go and say Cafe Nero or Starbucks should be in Welsh. That doesn't happen.

"But food hall, clothing, toilets, that should all be translated into Welsh."

M&S said it would translate non-brand signs, but that Foodhall was part of its brand.

Mr Hinge said: "No, I'm not happy with that. Food hall is food hall.

Image copyright PA

"If they can provide proof of the fact that they have not translated it anywhere else then we can look at the matter again."

Aberystwyth town council objected to the signage application, and planning chairman Jeff Smith said: "Marks and Spencer of course is a brand, and hence doesn't need translation, but signs such as 'food hall' are clearly a description of the goods offered and should be bilingual with Welsh at the top or on the left."

An M&S spokeswoman said: "The term Foodhall is part of our brand signage and is not translated in any of our stores, in Wales or overseas.

"We've worked closely with the Welsh Language Commissioner to offer bilingual signage and service in all our stores across Wales, including adapting name badges so customers can easily identify our Welsh-speaking colleagues."

Opinions divided

BBC Wales News' readers on Facebook had different opinions over whether the council should stick to its guns.

Gareth King wrote that people should be grateful to have the branch open when M&S were closing other stores, while Donna Marie Hanlon argued if road signs and driving licence addresses could be translated, so should store signs.

Image copyright Facebook
Image copyright Facebook

Adam Jones said as long as there was no danger of M&S pulling out of the deal because of the row, there was no harm in insisting the sign was translated. But Joanne Marshall said the bigger picture needed to be looked at.

Image copyright Facebook
Image copyright Facebook

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