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September 9, 2013

Co-op ditches Sunday Sport and lads’ mags as modesty bag deadline passes

By William Turvill

The Co-operative Group has stopped stocking two newspapers and four lads’ magazines today.

The decision came after the titles refused to the Co-op’s request that they should be sold in opaque “modesty bags”.

The Midweek and Sunday Sport papers initially agreed to adopt the bags, but their publisher has now told the Co-op they will no longer comply with the request.

Elsewhere, Nuts and Zoo magazines publicly announced last month that they would not use the bags. Front magazine remained silent.

Co-op this morning announced that the next edition of Loaded, due out on 18 September, would be bagged following an agreement with its publisher. But Loaded, whose editor Jamie Wallis described Co-op’s ultimatum as a “very real threat to the free press”, denied the agreement.

Co-op has now confirmed that it has taken down the latest issue of Loaded, but is in discussions over the use of a modesty bag for the next edition.

Co-operative Group chief executive of retail Steve Murrells said: "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.  

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“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.” 

A Lose the Lads' Mags campaigner told Press Gazette that today's events were a "positive step", adding: "It is crucial now that Tesco and other retailers follow suit."

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