From today, the publications will no longer be sold at more than 4,000 Co-operative stores UK-wide – including the Scotmid chain – after they failed to comply with the organisation’s demands in response to a growing backlash against explicit images on their covers.
Newspapers the Midweek and the Sunday Sport will also not be sold at the stores after the publisher said it was no longer able to fulfil its earlier undertaking that it would deliver all editions to Co-operative stores in modesty bags from today.
The Co-operative Group, the UK’s fifth biggest food retailer and the main brand within the Co-operative Retail Trading Group umbrella organisation, said the request to the publishers of Front, Loaded, Nuts and Zoo was made at the end of July in response to growing concerns over exposure of children to the “overt sexual images” on the magazines’ front covers.
The umbrella organisation includes 400 Scotmid stores north of the Border and the Clydebank Co-operative Society, which has six outlets around Glasgow.
Rival publication Loaded will still be sold in Co-operative stores after its owners agreed to provide a modesty bag for its next issue, which is out on 18 September.
“As a community-based retailer, we have listened to and acted upon the concerns of our customers and members, many of whom said they objected to their children being able to see overt sexual images in our stores,” said Steve Murrells, chief executive of retail for The Co-operative Group.
“We believe individual, sealed modesty bags are the most effective way of addressing these concerns, so we will no longer be stocking the titles that have failed to meet our request.
“This action will make our stores more attractive to families with young children, by creating a more family-friendly shopping environment.”
The news was welcomed by campaigners who have lobbied for sexualised images to be removed from places where children can see them.
Kathy McGuinness, co-founder of campaign group Child Eyes, said: “Child Eyes is delighted that The Co-operative has taken the lead to protect its customers’ children from sexualised images in its stores.
“We applaud The Co-operative for putting children’s welfare first, and hope other supermarkets will listen to their customers and follow suit.”
Earlier this month, supermarket chain Morrisons called on rivals to adopt a collective stance over the controversy of how to display lads’ mags on shelves, arguing that consumers are “confused” by the different policies being adopted.
Market leader Tesco is considering tougher restrictions, while Sainsbury’s has provided a form of modesty cover – boards placed over titles – for titles including Zoo, Loaded and Bizarre since 2006. Asda also has a modesty cover for the titles.