The Co-op’s ultimatum to publishers to supply lads’ mags in plain covers or face delisting attracted a lot of media attention. We’ve covered the story, as you might expect, but it attracted considerable airtime and column inches in the national consumer media as well.

It’s a good effort from the movement’s PR function, but it would be wrong to dismiss it as a cynical publicity ploy. Co-operative stores are generally community-based, and are underpinned by an ethical trading philosophy. The front covers of these publications leave little to the imagination, and may upset families whilst shopping for groceries, so demanding modesty covers is a form of responsible retailing.

One fundamental lesson here for all retailers is to communicate. If you’re going to take a stand on a local or national issue, then shout about it. We don’t know if the Co-op is going to gain sales or lose sales as a result of this measure, but at least everyone knows where they stand.