Thomas Cook has defended its decision to force its workers to conduct all business conversations in English to promote “clear communication”.

The company today issued a “clarifying” statement after reports it had banned staff in its Bangor shop in Gwynedd from talking Welsh resulted in an outcry from human rights bodies and Welsh organisations.

In the statement the company claimed it had not banned the use of Welsh “or any other language” in its UK stores.

The company said: “Thomas Cook has always requested that its staff, regardless of any geographical location, speak English to other staff members when discussing work-related matters in the work place.

“This is to ensure clear communication at all times as English is the common language spoken for all its UK employees, and it is also respectful to team members who do not speak other languages.”

The company said it was “more than happy” for staff to have non-business related conversations with their colleagues in any language and that, in the example of Wales, customers were “very welcome” to talk Welsh to its staff.

“Thomas Cook is happy to discuss this topic with the Commission for Racial Equality or any other interested party,” it added.