Page last updated at 11:18 GMT, Wednesday, 14 April 2010 12:18 UK

Padded bikini for girls withdrawn

A Primark shop
Primark has 138 stores in the UK and 38 in Ireland

Clothing chain Primark has withdrawn the sale of its range of padded bikini tops for girls as young as seven following criticism.

The company apologised to customers for "causing offence" and said it would donate profits to a children's charity.

The Children's Society criticised Primark for "premature sexualisation and unprincipled advertising".

Conservative leader David Cameron said it was "disgraceful" but later added he was delighted by the withdrawal.

The £4 bikini sets came in candy pink with gold stars and black with white polka dots.

Penny Nicholls, director of children and young people at The Children's Society, said: "We know from our research that commercial pressures towards premature sexualisation and unprincipled advertising are damaging children's well-being.

'Better values'

''The evidence shows that adults feel children are more materialistic than in past generations, while children themselves feel under pressure to keep up with the latest trends.

"We need a significant change at the heart of society where adults stand up for better values.''

Mr Cameron said: "I'm delighted that they've taken the decision to withdraw this product because we do need a more responsible society."

Justine Roberts, founder of the online forum for parents, Mumsnet, also welcomed Primark's decision to remove the bikini range, saying it was a shame it was ever on sale.

David Cameron welcomes Primark's withdrawal of the padded bikinis

Mumsnet recently launched a Let Girls Be Girls campaign aimed at persuading retailers not to sell products "prematurely sexualising" children.

Ms Roberts said it was "very clear that parents just don't want to see this stuff on shelves".

Prime Minister Gordon Brown backed her campaign, saying: "There's something wrong when companies are pushing our kids into acting like little grown-ups when they should be enjoying being children."

The Liberal Democrat's spokeswoman for equality, Lynne Featherstone, also welcomed the decision, adding: "How on earth could they have thought that this was a good idea in the first place?"

Child protection consultant Shy Keenan, of The Phoenix Chief Advocates which helps victims of paedophiles, said: "Primark have made a mistake here, but at least they have listened to their customers and taken real steps to put it right. We could not have asked for a better outcome."

Pole-dancing kit

Primark, which is well-known for its heavily discounted brands, has 138 UK stores and 38 in Ireland.

It is the latest chain to face criticism over products considered too adult for youngsters.

Asda has been singled out for a push-up bra aimed at young girls, and Tesco withdrew a pole-dancing kit from its toys section.

Last year WHSmith also withdrew its Playboy stationery, but did not say if that was because the products were sold to children.

A Primark spokesman said it has "taken note" of concerns about the product which is said it sold in "relatively small" quantities.

"The company has stopped the sale of this product line with immediate effect, the spokesman said.

"Primark will donate all the profits made from this product line to a children's charity, and apologises to customers for any offence caused."

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