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August 9, 2013

Morrisons calls for supermarket industry to agree a unified approach to lads’ mags

By Gavriel Hollander

The fourth largest supermarket chain in the country has called for an industry-wide agreement over how to display lads’ mags following intense debate on the issue over recent weeks.

Morrisons said retailers should decide on “a common approach” after the row escalated when the Co-operative Group told publishers they must put the magazines in “modesty bags” or face a ban from their shelves.

Both Nuts and Zoo responded yesterday by saying they would remove their products from Co-op next month rather than comply with the ultimatum.

 “We are keen to get some common approach rather than have every retailer going out on their own,” said Julian Bailey, head of Communications at Morrisons. “It is confusing for customers.

“If there is a different approach from every single retailer, then that is a problem.”

Morrisons has placed magazines such as Front and Loaded, as well as Nuts and Zoo, behind dark screens for the last three years, shielding the majority of their covers. It said it had no intention of following Co-op’s lead and insisting the magazines be placed in bags.

“We do a lot to make sure  these magazines are shielded from younger people,” said Bailey. “We cover them and put them on the top shelf. It’s the approach we have used for some time.”

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He added that the supermarket wanted to discuss the issue “at the appropriate industry groups”.

Front, Nuts and Zoo have all agreed to produce toned-down front covers to prevent them from being placed in protective bags by Tesco. The covers feature fewer nude or semi-nude models and less provocative language.

The more modest covers from Nuts and Zoo have been in operation for several weeks and appear to have ended Tesco’s call for the magazines to be bagged.

However, Co-op has issued a September deadline for all the titles to be placed in bags if they are to continue to be sold in its stores.

The furore has built over recent weeks on the back of the Lose the Lads’ Mags campaign. Nuts publisher IPC Media has launched a counter Hands off our Nuts campaign in response to Co-op’s move.

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