A North Wales promotional merchandise company is championing the use of Welsh to meet a growing demand from customers to use the language.
Sional Promotional Merchandise from Llanfairfechan, which has customers around the world, is seeing a rise in inquiries from Welsh-speaking customers on its doorstep.
The company has worked with a Gwynedd design firm to create a bilingual site.
It comes as research shows that more businesses and local authorities are reporting benefits from using Welsh in the office, while consumers are calling for more opportunities to use it in their daily lives – and especially while shopping.
The Welsh Government along with the Federation of Small Businesses have also urged employers to put Welsh at the heart of the workplace, and encouraged companies to operate bi-lingually where possible.
The Assembly recently pumped more cash into Welsh courses with the aim of creating a million Welsh speakers by 2050, and last year unveiled a £400,000 pot to help smaller companies strengthen bilingual customer services.
The North Wales Economic Ambition Board has launched its Welsh Language in North Wales report, aimed at boosting bilingualism across the region, saying there was appetite in the public and private sectors to back the need for more Welsh speakers in industry and education.
Sional founder Sioned Jones, who speaks Welsh, said: “The new website, which has been created by Caernarfon company Delwedd, can be seen either in English or Welsh.
“Our customers from around the UK and Europe will obviously be using the English version, but it can be flipped at the click of button to be in Welsh.
“We are seeing an increase in enquiries from companies in Wales who want to use our services, while using Welsh. In Gwynedd around two thirds of people speak Welsh, and would prefer to do business in Welsh.
“It’s very much a business decision – this is what our customers want. It strengthens our relationship with them, especially when it comes to customer service, and will give us the edge over our England-based rivals.
“We also work with a growing number of local authorities and other public bodies and, for them, having a bilingual supplier is essential.
“We have Welsh speaking staff who deal with our clients in Welsh. The new website means that we have an online presence in Welsh, so cementing our relationship with them.
“It’s also about making our brand more visible, from a digital marketing perspective. Google has said that bi-lingual and multi-lingual sites score more highly with its search engine optimisation (SEO), as they provide relevant content to people browsing online.”
The website is a shopfront for Sional’s range of 60,000 promotional products, which includes work and office wear, trophies, banners, key rings, pens and sports clothing. It also runs online shops for national organisations through to local schools and sports clubs.
It has been designed by award-winning firm Delwedd, which is celebrating 20 years in business, with more than 400 websites now up and running, Its track record for creating Welsh language sites includes designs for Snowdonia Attractions and Caernarfon Royal Town Council.
The Caernarfon-based firm’s commitment to helping businesses deliver services bi-lingually includes a discount for companies running sites in both Welsh and English, garnering praise from Welsh Language Commissioner Meri Huws.
Delwedd director Aled Roberts said: “There used to be grants available to do Welsh language websites but when they stopped becoming available people didn’t want to pay more so would have an English-only website.
“So we decided to promote the Welsh language ourselves and set up the Welsh version for no extra cost.
“This is usually a saving of up to £500 for our clients, which was the average amount of the grant previously available.
“Sional contacted us about setting up a website with a Welsh language version and we’ve designed and built the website and populated the content.
“We were one of the first companies in Wales to be able to offer users a complete Welsh language shopping experience.”