A pioneer of home selling, Ann Summers put the sex into the British high-street. Named after Annice Summers, the female secretary of the male founder, Michael Caborn Waterfield, Ann Summers is well known for its ranges of women’s underwear and lingerie.
The first Ann Summers store in Soho's Wardour Street was acquired by the Gold brothers, Ralph and David in 1972. The store was given to them as a debt payment from Caborn Waterfield.
In 1981 Jacqueline Gold joined her father's (David Gold) business and, having attended a Tupperware party, had the brain-wave of introducing the home selling angle to the sex toy business. Jacqueline was appointed a director of the business 10 years later and is now its CEO.
By 1999 the brand began selling online and in 2000 acquired the Knickerbox lingerie chain. Gold (whose sister Vanessa is managing director) repositioned the brand as one which empowered women and went on to become one of the most respected businesswomen in the UK receiving a CBE in 2016.
Today, it is based in Whyteleafe, Surrey and has stores in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Spain.
Its store estate totals more than 100 locations but following major investment in branding and IT (coupled with increasing government-imposed costs and a challenging retail environment) the company slipped into operating loss of £3.2m in 2018 (year ending June 2018).
In April 2019 it revealed it was seeking rent reductions from landlords in an attempt to reduce its rent bill. By August it revealed that it had secured new terms on 95% of its stores but Jacqueline Gold said it might yet be possible that it would look to put the remaining five stores through a CVA process.