Belfast Telegraph

Row in store over Asda’s email on products with the Union flag

By Patrice Dougan

Supermarket giant Asda has sparked another flag row after it asked suppliers not to send products with Union flag logos to its Northern Ireland stores.

It has emerged the retailer emailed suppliers asking them to only use standard packaging on products delivered here.

It comes as companies prepare to flood the market with specially-branded products in the run-up to the Queen’s Jubilee and the London Olympics.

The move has sparked criticism, with one MLA saying the supermarket was “turning its back” on the Queen.

Asda has admitted sending an email to around 20 suppliers, including soft-drink giant Coca-Cola, asking them to list the products they intended to adopt Union flag branding on, so it could “manage the distribution accordingly”.

The email is reported as stressing that “standard packaging is to be sent to Northern Ireland and Scottish stores”.

Asda has now said this was a “badly worded email” which “should never have been sent”.

Suppliers were said to have been left confused by the order, particularly in relation to Scotland.

“We are aware there are issues of sensitivity in Northern Ireland but this email clearly states that they want standard packaging to be sent to Scotland too,” one supplier is reported to have said.

East Belfast MLA Robin Newton said it was “a great pity that Asda should take that attitude”.

“This is a very special year of celebration where people throughout the UK, from all sorts of backgrounds, will take part and enjoy these celebrations,” he said.

“This is an opportunity that may well never arrive on the UK’s doorstep again. As a part of the UK, Northern Ireland is entitled to take part in these celebrations and enjoy them.

“To be neutral at such a time is to turn your back on a wonderful reign of a monarch who is respected by people throughout the world, from all classes and creeds, and indeed all nationalities.”

It’s the second time this month Asda has found itself in hot water over issues with flags on display in its stores.

Just last week an Asda store in Coleraine was forced to remove a St Patrick’s Day card which featured an Irish tricolour flag after the local loyalist community threatened to boycott the store.

A spokeswoman for Asda said there was no question of a ban on Union flag-branded products in its stores.

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