Another blow to the rapidly dwindling circulations of “lad’s mags” has been delivered by the Co-op, which is proud of its ethical approach to business matters and is insisting that the magazines be packed in pre-sealed “modesty bags” designed to obscure the front covers.

Publishers of Loaded, Front, Nuts and Zoo were given until September 9 to comply or be taken off the shelves of 4,000 Co-ops, where many of the stores have low-level shelving units which can easily be viewed by children, who many parents are concerned are becoming sexualised by the proliferation of lewd images. It is an offence to display indecent and obscene matter – that which has a tendency to deprave and corrupt – in a public place.

Some feel that the move by the Co-op, expected to be followed by other retailers, discharges their legal but not their arguably more important corporate social responsibility. The Lose the Lad’s Mags campaign group has said that the action is “designed to allow the Cooperative to continue profiting from sexist, harmful lad’s mags – but just a bit more discreetly. That’s not what corporate social responsibility looks like”.

Shotly after its launch in 2004 an issue of Zoo, published at the time by Emap, carried photographs of chickens being burnt alive in China during the bird flu epidemic, and captioned them with sick “jokes” about “ordering the flame-grilled”, a thuggish, sadistic and moronic approach with a tendency to deprave and corrupt from which retailers were happy to profit.

Lad’s mags have suffered huge falls in circulation as their readerships have turned to the free internet for their intellectual stimulation.

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