Iceland boss calls Welsh ‘gibberish’ as furious customers boycott supermarket

An Iceland boss called the Welsh language “gibberish” and said it sounds like someone “clearing their throat”.

The supermarket chain apologised after Keith Hann made the comments in a personal blog which has since been made private, Wales Online reports.

In June 2019, he wrote: "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 blog post written on September 17 2014, he said that in Wales “the supermarket signage” was “incomprehensible” and kids were educated in a “dead language that sounds uncannily like someone with bad catarrh [a build-up of mucus] clearing his throat”.

In another post, Mr Hann said that if he moved over the border that his son “would be having part of his education conducted in gibberish”.

In a now-deleted tweet, he said “inhabitants of the UK’s Celtic fringe [the Highland Scots, Irish, Welsh, and Cornish] loathe all visitors”, referring to people travelling to Wales.

Mr Hann's Twitter account has also been locked and his description was changed to "All views my own and usually joking”.

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.

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Several shoppers have said on social media that they will now be boycotting the chain.

One said: “This is shocking,@IcelandFoodsfrom your Director of Corporate Affairs @keithhann! Insulting Welsh language and Wales itself. I’ve always felt loyal to the company being a former employee but will be boycotting you along with friends and family. What next steps will you take?”

While another said: "Boycott Iceland foods, to say this about a welsh company makes me sick, but it is a disgrace and no we know it is not meant as a joke as he has a track record of anti-welsh utterances@IcelandFoodsquite happy to come down and have a chat as hq just up the road #indywales."

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An Iceland spokesperson told Wales Online: “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.”

The Daily Star has approached the supermarket for further comment.

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