The guns can stay but the lads magazines must go

LONDON - Wal-Mart Stores, one of the largest retailers of firearms in the US, has banned the sale of lads mags Maxim, Stuff and FHM in its stores.

Wal-Mart made the move to end the sale of some of the US's top-selling men's magazines, which have become famous for their humour and acres of not quite naked flesh, after pressure from right-wing Christian groups.

Maxim has been sold in Wal-Mart for the last three years, while FHM is a more recent addition. Dennis-owned Maxim is the US's biggest-selling men's magazine with a circulation of more than 2m and Emap's FHM sells more than 1m. Maxim sells around 840,000 on the newsstand and FHM, which has seen sales rocket 9.6% in the second half of last year, sells 438,000.

Tom Williams a Wal-Mart spokesman, said: "We carried those magazines initially in response to customer requests, but we have had customers around the country that have consistently been telling us they're uncomfortable with us carrying these magazines."

The move to stop selling the magazines builds on an existing policy of Wal-Mart not to sell explicit material. It already refused to stock CDs carrying warnings about explicit lyrics, which has previously led to artists as anodyne as Sheryl Crowe being banned. It has also led record companies in the US to produce sanitised versions of albums for the "Wal-Mart market".

It is not the first incident of magazines being banned by Wal-Mart, but previously the store has only targeted individual copies. In 2001, Wal-Mart refused to sell an issue of In Style featuring a naked photo of Kate Hudson and, last year, a copy of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition fell foul of the retailer.

Stephen Colvin, president of Dennis Publishing USA, said that Maxim and Stuff would not be hard hit by the ban as Wal-Mart accounts for "less than 3%" of newsstands sales.

"Maybe they think Tyra Banks should have been wearing pink instead of black. I don't think that these decisions are often rational," Colvin said.

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