Ann Summers began in 1970 when a man called Caborn-Waterfield opened a shop on Edgware Road, London in the September of that year.
The name he affectionately took from his secretary, a blonde buxom woman named ‘Annice Summers’, and he had hoped that the name conjured up an image of an English Rose. The logo (the bitten apple) was also Waterfield’s idea.
The first shop netted approximately £5,000 per week in its first few weeks of trading, and so shortly afterwards, he opened another shop in Bristol. This was to be his downfall, and soon after the opening, Ann Summers started to experience problems, and went into voluntary liquidation.
Ralph and David Gold (Jacqueline’s father and uncle) intervened in 1971 and bought the shops and the Ann Summers’ name for £10,000 (along with all the debts). A third shop was soon opened in West London in May of that year. Annice Summers was kept on to run the shop in West London, until problems arose with the day to day running and she later moved out of the country, leaving the world of Ann Summers behind.
The company, although still having the shops, ran mainly on mail order for the next nine years.
A 20 year old Jacqueline Gold was working for her father within his company earning a wage of £45 per week, when she realised that two Pippa Dee Sales Representatives were buying Ann Summers products to take to their parties to liven things up a bit. It was Spring 1981 when she was invited to one of these parties. It was held in a small, smoky council flat in South East London, and she sat and became involved with the rest of the guests in the fun and games.
She was introduced to the other guests as ‘The daughter of the man who owns Ann Summers’ and was instantly barraged with questions as to why Ann Summers didn’t organise their own parties.
From this she decided to hold some parties of her own, and with the help of her then husband, she purchased approximately £100 worth of clothes and began to hold parties at home for people that she knew. After realising just how successful the parties could be, she decided to approach her father regarding bringing Ann Summers into the party plan world, alongside companies such as Oriflame (cosmetics) Tupperware (cookware) and Pippa Dee (clothing). She was told quite plainly that she would have to present her ideas to the board.
A week later, and armed with two pieces of paper, she pledged her ideas to the board, and after outlining her plans; she was dismissed to await their decision. After a few days her father informed her that after discussing the terms she could ‘run the show’. She would be allowed to place one advert per week for a month in the Evening Standard to recruit women to be party organisers, and after seeing the response the position would be reviewed.
The first advert was run in May 1981 and appeared as:
Demonstrators required to run Ann Summers parties
Selling erotic lingerie for ladies only.
Earn £30 to £40 for an evening’s work.
Contact tel: ………………………….
This first advert produced twenty-five genuine recruits, and was enough to give Jacqueline Gold the beginning that she needed.
In 1982 a telephone ordering system was set up to make it easier for the Organisers to order their stock, and Ann Summers Business was transferred onto a computer system, at a considerable cost to the company.
In the first year of trading as a party plan business, Ann Summers had more than 1,000 Party Organisers and the gross turnover was around £80,000.
In July 1993 Jacqueline Gold became Managing Director and Chief Executive of Ann Summers giving her total control of the business.
It has come a long way since then…
She went on to launch the online catalogue in August 1999, making the products more accessible to men and women all over the world.
She also decided to sell franchises of Ann Summers and the first franchise store was opened in August 1999 in Sydney, Australia.
Sales reached an all time high in December 1999 when a million vibrators were sold, and then again in the first week of December 2000, when the party organisers joined together to reach a mega £1,000,000 worth of sales from parties alone!
There are now approximately 7,500 party organisers within the United Kingdom and Ireland, and there are offices in Germany; Holland and Denmark.
Ann Summers is rated in the Top Ten privately owned companies in Great Britain, and Jacqueline Gold is a household name.
She has been presented with numerous business awards, and is, and continues to be, one of the most successful women in business today, running an empire that has gross annual sales of over £53,500,000.
She became the celebrity patron of Breast Cancer Campaign in February 2000 and Ann Summers raises money for the charity each year during Breast Cancer Awareness month. This is a charity that most women are familiar with, and so teaming it with the Ann Summers parties is a fantastic way of bringing awareness to all women.
On the 31st March 2000 Jacqueline Gold hit the headlines when she took over the Knickerbox Empire. The acquisition of 30 Knickerbox stores has continued to put Ann Summers into the public eye, and with 42 Ann Summers stores in the United Kingdom, and stores in the Middle East ; Ireland and The USA Jacqueline Gold is set to become the Business Woman of the millennium!
*All facts and figures taken from 'Good Vibrations'