The Co-operative Retail Trading Group is threatening to remove lads mags from sale in more than 4,000 Co-operative stores unless publishers put them in sealed modesty bags.

Publishers of Front, Loaded, Nuts and Zoo have been given until September 9 to deliver the magazines in pre-sealed bags designed to obscure the front cover. The move by all Co-operative societies includes the The Co-operative Group, one of the UK’s largest magazine retailers.

The Group said its action had been sparked by the growing concerns of its members, customers and colleagues over exposure of children to “the overt sexual images” front covers.

Despite stores’ best efforts images were still sometimes visible, said Steve Murrells, chief executive of retail for The Co-operative Group.

“As an interim measure, we have introduced our own opaque screens on shelf to reinforce our existing policy limiting the display of such material. The Publishers of these magazines now have until September 9 to start providing their own modesty bags, after which any lads’ magazine which does not have the relevant bag will not be supplied in our stores,” he added.

The Sport newspaper has already agreed to deliver all editions to Co-operative stores in this way from September 9.