Zoo, Nuts Yank 'Lads Mags' From U.K. Retailer

Rhett Pardon

LONDON — Two U.K. magazines plan to boycott one of Britain's biggest retailers, the Cooperative Group, over the supermarket's demand for its "lads mags" to be polybagged to mask explicit pictures on its front covers.

The weekly magazines, Zoo and Nuts, announced today that they won't yield to the supermarket's ultimatum to put the magazines in so-called "modesty bags."

In its demands, the Cooperative Group said it was acting on concerns of its customers as it ordered Nuts, Zoo, Front and Loaded to hide their front covers or be taken off shelves.

In a statement, the Cooperative Group said: "Our position has not changed: If Nuts, or any of the other publications, Zoo, Loaded and Front, do not put their titles into modesty bags by the date we've given of Sept. 9, we will no longer sell the magazines."

Paul Williams, managing director of Nuts publisher IPC Inspire, said the magazine would now be pulled from the Cooperative Group's 4,000 stores in the U.K.

"Co-op's knee-jerk attempt to restrict access to a product that consumers have enjoyed for nearly a decade is wrong," said Williams, adding that the supermarket chain is attempting to prevent shoppers from browsing a legal magazine that is displayed in line with Home Office guidelines.

"The objection that niche lobby groups have against certain sectors of the media should not mean that the right to purchase a perfectly legal product is restricted for the over half a million Nuts readers," he said. "As has been widely reported in the media in recent weeks, this is no longer a question of whether or not you like men's magazines, it is a question of how far you can restrict the public's ability to consume free and legal media before it becomes censorship.

"Nuts takes its obligation to craft products that are right for consumers and retailers alike very seriously and for a number of weeks now we have had new covers in place, which have a more conservative tone."

Both publishers of Zoo and Nuts recently toned down their covers and plan to continue with those policies. Nuts' weekly average circulation is 80,000, while Zoo's circulation is 44,000.

Meanwhile, the editor of the Sun's Irish edition said today that the newspaper is pulling its traditionally topless Page Three. The paper recently has taken a  new direction by running pictures of models in swimwear on Page Three.

Feminist campaign group Lose the Lads Mags, supported by such groups as UK Feminista and the European Women's Lobby, has been part of the driving force to introduce modesty bags or to ban altogether lads mags in U.K. stores.

While supermarket giant Tesco announced last week that it would only sell lads mags to individuals 18 and over, the Lose the Lads Mags group is calling a protest on Aug. 24 at eight Tesco stores in Cambridge, Glasgow, Portsmouth, Halifax, Norwich and Kent, as well as two stores in Central London at Regent Street and Liverpool Street locations.