Companies

Description

Ann Summers is a British multinational retailer company specialising in sex toys and lingerie, with 80 high street stores in the UK, Ireland, and the Channel Islands. In 2000, Ann Summers acquired the Knickerbox brand, 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.

History

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

Annice Summers was born Annice Goodwin in 1941, but later took her stepfather's surname. She 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.

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

Retail

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, 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 was the Executive Chair of Ann Summers) and she introduced the Party Plan concept. The retail operations for all of Ann Summers' shops are managed from their Head Office in Whyteleafe, Surrey and, as of December 2010, Ann Summers operated 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 two million Rampant Rabbits, a kind of vibrator exclusive to Ann Summers,[citation needed] per year.

Ann Summers parties

Jacqueline Gold initiated the Party Plan concept in 1981. 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, coordinated from the Head Office in Surrey. There were around 4,000 Ann Summers parties every week in the UK in 2003.

The Ann Summers parties  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.

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