Ann Summers tycoon Jacqueline Gold dies

Jacqueline Gold, the former longtime chief executive of Ann Summers, who played a role in the sexual liberation of British women and Britain’s high street, has died aged 62.

Gold became CEO of the lingerie and sex toy chain in 1987, transforming the brand into a multi-million pound retail empire and becoming one of the UK’s most prominent entrepreneurs by the 1990s. She died after a seven-year battle with breast cancer, her family announced on Friday.

Gold joined Ann Summers in 1981, who was part of her father David Gold’s business empire. David, who was also co-chairman of West Ham United football team, died in January.

His daughter took over the business, which at the time consisted of four backyard shops, making it Britain’s first major sex products chain with high street stores.

“It was a very male-centric business back then,” she told the Financial Times in 2005, recalling her early years in the business. “The workers were men, the customers were men. . . I think only about 10 percent of the customers were women.”

Gold was known for using a direct sales model based on Tupperware parties, selling products to small groups of women in their homes, to attract a wider range of customers and shift the sector away from its traditional seedy image.

“When I presented my ideas to the board, they had no confidence that it would work,” she said. “It was an all-male board at the time. One of them said, “This won’t work. Women don’t even care about sex.” ”

The success of her approach meant she became one of the most celebrated female executives in the country, overseeing the company’s international expansion into Ireland and Spain and online strategy before becoming CEO. She was appointed CBE in 2015.

“In life, she was a trailblazer, a visionary and the most incredible woman,” said her family, adding that she “valiantly fought stage 4 breast cancer for 7 years and was an absolute warrior throughout her cancer journey.”

The Gold family fortune – Jacqueline, David and his other daughter Vanessa, now CEO of Ann Summers – was estimated at £470million by The Sunday Times Rich List in 2019, making her one of the richest women in the country.

However, Ann Summers has struggled in recent years with more nimble online operators like Lovehoney. The most recent results showed annual sales of £164m in the year to March 2021, compared to £93m for Ann Summers in the year to 26 June 2022.

In December 2020, Ann Summers initiated bankruptcy proceedings, known as the company’s voluntary agreement, to lower rents as the company was impacted by the Covid restrictions that kept its stores closed.

According to the most recent filing, the company has 81 stores in the UK and three in Ireland, up from a total of 140 stores in 2005. Ann Summers tycoon Jacqueline Gold dies

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