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Ann Summers Opens Store In Coventry

A racy new store, which has opened in Coventry, is set to raise some eyebrows in the city by selling lingerie and sex toys.

The Ann Summers store in Hertford Street will inevitably spark discussions over the limits that shops should be allowed to go to without having to apply for a special licence, but company managing director Jacqueline Gold believes this is all hype.

She said:

"The kind of people that get asked their opinion by the media when we open a store in a new place are church leaders or heads of organisations, that are bound to be critical.

"It would make a change if before someone gave their opinion on the store they actually came in and had a look because I am sure it is not at all what they imagine it to be."

And Jacqueline, the daughter of millionaire Birmingham City owner David Gold, admits she does get annoyed when people refer to the chain – which has an annual turnover of around 40 million - as ‘sex shops’.

"They are not sex shops, and this one in Coventry is not a sex shop. There are always people who have preconceived ideas about what the store is like and when they actually come in for the first time they are very surprised.

"But if you put Ann Summers next door to a sex shop there would be absolutely no comparison."

Coventry was chosen as the location for the chain’s 23rd store because the company felt that the staggering success of the Ann Summers parties in the city – there has been over 1,000 in the last year – showed the potential in the city.

Gold said:

"I am delighted to have an outlet in the Midlands because previously there was nowhere available to buy the kind of items that we sell because we are quite lucky in the fact we have no direct competition.

"Obviously I hope that the Coventry store does well and I fully expect it to, I can imagine that it will be one of our most successful outlets."

The former JJB site will sell everything from "lingerie to a variety of fun items" but Gold, who has written an autobiography called 'Good Vibrations', insists that the jovial side of the shop is just a small section.

She said:

"90% of the store is serious designer lingerie and we want people to realise how seriously we take this side of the business.

"We only have the best quality garments, so much so that we have now opened up our own manufacturing units in Portsmouth and we actually supply several other high street stores."

Gold now hopes that the opening of the Coventry store will be the start of a major drive for the company with the aim being to have a store in every major city in the country.

She said:

"We are opening stores at a rate of around 10 a year but that is only because we cannot find suitable sites to purchase, but the goal is to have 75 outlets.

"We feel that the Hertford Street position will be ideal for the store because it is quite a busy walkway in the city, and I hope people will wander past and be intrigued."

And the woman who invented the Ann Summers parties in 1981 after working in one of the stores, admits that her father’s passion for Birmingham City has rubbed off on her.

"I really am a big fan and I now go to all of the games," she said. "I could not believe it when they lost to Watford in the play-offs, it was heart-breaking but they will be back."

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CWN / Business / A-Z / Ann Summers / 10 Jun 99

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This page modified on 10 November 2008 09:49:15AM