Ann Summers

Last updated

Ann Summers Ltd
Private Ltd)
Industry Retail
Founded1970, London
Headquarters Caterham, Surrey, UK
Number of locations
140 high street stores
Area served
United Kingdom
Channel Islands
Key people
David Gold
Jacqueline Gold (CEO)
Vanessa Gold (MD)
Products Clothing
Sex toys
Revenue£109.96 million (2018) [1]
Ann Summers store in West Yorkshire Ann Summers - The Piazza Centre - - 1700592.jpg
Ann Summers store in West Yorkshire
Ann Summers store in London Ann-Summers-1.jpg
Ann Summers store in London
Ann Summers store in Hull Ann Summers Shop - - 242230.jpg
Ann Summers store in Hull

Ann Summers is a British multinational retailer company specialising in sex toys and lingerie, with over 140 high street stores in the UK, Ireland, and the Channel Islands. [2] In 2000, Ann Summers acquired the Knickerbox brand, [3] a label with an emphasis on more comfortable and feminine underwear, while the Ann Summers-labelled products tend to be more erotic in style. The chain had an annual turnover of £117.3 million in 2007–2008.



The company was named after Annice Summers, the female secretary of the male founder, Michael Caborn-Waterfield.

Annice Summers, who was born Annice Goodwin in 1941 but later took her stepfather's surname, left the company soon after it opened following a row with Caborn-Waterfield. She went to live in Umbria, Italy, two hours from Rome, and died of cancer in October 2012. [4]

In 2000, Ann Summers acquired the underwear brand Knickerbox for an undisclosed sum. However, in 2014 they announced plans to sell the brand. [5]


The first Ann Summers shop was opened in 1970 in Marble Arch, London, from which it grew to six shops.

Ann Summers was purchased in 1971 by brothers Ralph and David Gold, [6] who turned it from a standard sex shop into an established high street brand and lingerie boutique. In 1981, David Gold installed his daughter Jacqueline Gold (who is the current Chief Executive of Ann Summers) and she introduced the Party Plan concept.[ citation needed ] The retail operations for all of Ann Summers' shops are managed from the Head Office in Whyteleafe, Surrey, and as of December 2010 Ann Summers operates 144 retail outlets across the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands and Spain.

The shops offer lingerie, underwear, cosmetics, swimwear and sex toys. The stores sell 2 million Rampant Rabbits, a kind of vibrator exclusive[ citation needed ] to Ann Summers, per year. [7]

Party Plan

Jacqueline Gold initiated the Party Plan concept in 1981. [7] Initially, the Ann Summers parties were as much a way of circumventing regulations restricting the display of sex toys as they were a marketing tactic, but their popularity quickly grew and Ann Summers now employs over 7,500 Party Organisers, [8] coordinated from the Head Office in Surrey. There are around 4,000 Ann Summers Parties every week in the UK. [9]

The Ann Summers parties are exclusively women-only, [9] and include the presentation of sex toys and lingerie in the informal setting of someone's home; usually the home of one of the attendees. It can also involve the perusal of a catalogue, and often there are party games. [10]


Due to the adult nature of the business, Ann Summers has frequently faced opposition, both legal and social. For example, in 2003, they won a legal battle to advertise for employees in job centres [11] and an ASA complaint was rejected. [12]

They have also encountered opposition to their advertising. The company received a letter of complaint from Buckingham Palace, due to a non-endorsed advert featuring the Queen. [13]

In 2003, the company's payments to party organisers were discussed by a number of media sources. [14]

In 2004, two complaints were upheld by the ASA. [15] The ASA decided that the first ad was degrading to women, offensive and unsuitable for use as a poster. In the second case the ASA ruled that the use of a reference to the nursery rhyme "Ride a Cock Horse" was likely to attract the attention of children and that the advertisement was unsuitable for the medium in which it appeared.

Ann Summers lingerie factory in Portsmouth closed in 2005, with over 50 redundancies. [16]

Additionally, Ann Summers in Perth, Scotland, was forced to close after the local people complained about the store (mostly from parents embarrassed by questions raised by their children), which also led to other problems with the store. [17] Perth was originally the only UK town where an Ann Summers store failed to take off. [18] However, in May 2007 the Middleton Grange, Hartlepool store which opened in November 2005 was closed after less than two years of trading due to poor sales. [19]

In 2006, Muslim groups complained about the release of a blow up doll named Mustafa Shag, claiming that the doll was offensive to Muslims as Mustafa was one of the names given to the Prophet Mohamed. [20]

In 2007, the company faced legal issues with Apple Inc due to its release of an electronic add-on to music players called the iGasm. The company has not backed down despite cease and desist orders by Apple. [21] Also, a former director, who is now a Beate Uhse AG employee [22] is pursuing a libel claim against Jacqueline Gold. [23] An advert was banned from the London Underground in the same year. [24]

In 2010, Ann Summers' Halloween advert was banned by the Radio Advertising Clearance Centre, which decided the advert used "fairly overt sexual references in terms of sound effects." [25]

In 2011 an advertising campaign which featured a pastiche of a Marks and Spencer advert was withdrawn after a threat of legal action by M&S. [26]

Related Research Articles


Lingerie is a category of primarily women's clothing including undergarments, sleepwear, and lightweight robes. The specific choice of the word is often motivated by an intention to imply that the garments are alluring, fashionable or both. In a 2015 US survey 75% of women and 26% of men reported having worn sexy lingerie in their lifetime.

Sex shop Shop that sells products related to sexual or erotic entertainment

A sex shop is a retailer that sells products related to adult sexual or erotic entertainment, such as vibrators, lingerie, clothing, pornography, and other related products.

Agent Provocateur (lingerie)

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David Gold (businessman)

David Gold is an English businessman. He was the chairman of Birmingham City Football Club until 2009. Since 2010, he has been the joint chairman of West Ham United.

Beate Uhse AG

Beate Uhse AG is a German industry group which focuses on selling adult entertainment in the form of sex toys, lingerie, clothing and pornography. It is the most successful company in the German sex industry, and the country's leading pornography retailer.

Committee of Advertising Practice Advertising regulation authority in the United Kingdom

The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) is a British organisation responsible for the UK Code of Non-Broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing, which is the main code of practice for self-regulation of the non-broadcast advertising industry in the UK.

Vibrator (sex toy)

A vibrator, sometimes described as a massager, is a sex toy that is used on the body to produce pleasurable sexual stimulation. There are many different shapes and models of vibrators. Most 2010-era vibrators contain an electric-powered device which pulsates or throbs. Vibrators can be used for both solo play and partnered play by one or more people. Devices exist to be used by couples to stimulate the genitals of both partners. They can be applied to erogenous zones, such as the clitoris, the vulva or vagina, penis, scrotum or anus, for sexual stimulation, for the release of sexual frustration and to achieve orgasm. Vibrators may be recommended by sex therapists for women who have difficulty reaching orgasm through masturbation or intercourse.

Jacqueline Gold

Jacqueline Summers Gold is a British businesswoman who is Chief Executive of Gold Group International, Ann Summers and Knickerbox.

Social impact of thong underwear Ranging from a ban on wearing thongs to celebrities wearing them on stage

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Lauren Gold is an English model and actress. Gold is most recognised as the DJ in Robbie Williams's "Rock DJ" music video as well as her recurring appearance in La Senza ad campaigns. Gold's best known acting role is Scarlett Rose in Sky One drama Dream Team.

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Thong Garment generally worn as either underwear or as a swimsuit in some countries

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Underwear as outerwear Fashion trend

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Ralph Gold is a British businessman. He is a former director of English football team, Birmingham City. Gold is a co-founder of the Ann Summers the Knickerbox retail chain and is the brother of David Gold who was also a director at Birmingham City and is a director of Ann Summers and Knickerbox.

Paul Golding

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<i>Brief Encounters</i> (TV series)

Brief Encounters is a British comedy-drama series created by Oriane Messina and Fay Rusling. The series is loosely based on Gold Group International CEO Jacqueline Gold's 1995 memoir, Good Vibrations, and details the beginning of the Ann Summers retailer company, through four women who see the potential of finding happiness and fulfillment by selling lingerie and sex toys to women in the privacy of their own homes. The series was produced by CPL Productions for broadcast on ITV and aired from 4 July to 8 August 2016. Filming took place between January and April 2016 in Sheffield. It was well received by critics gaining 8.4 out of 10 on IMDb.


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