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Jacqueline Gold, founder of Ann Summers, dies at 62



Powerful advocate for women in business

Jacqueline Gold, the businesswoman behind the success of Ann Summers, has died at the age of 62, her family have said. They said her death on Thursday evening after seven years of treatment for breast cancer had left them “utterly heartbroken”.

Gold, who was executive chair of the sex toys and lingerie retail chain, was a powerful advocate for women in business, and just this Wednesday had led a Twitter chat to promote female entrepreneurs. She was recognised with a CBE in 2016 for services to entrepreneurship, women in business and social enterprise.

A trailblazer for women

In 2015, Gold said: “I set out to empower women in the bedroom and now I want to empower women in the boardroom.”

Her sister Vanessa Gold, the chief executive of Ann Summers, said: “Jacqueline courageously battled stage 4 breast cancer for seven years and was an absolute warrior throughout her cancer journey. In life she was a trailblazer, a visionary, and the most incredible woman, all of which makes this news that much harder to bear. As a family, we are utterly heartbroken at the loss of our wife, mum, sister, and best friend.”

From a part-time job to CEO

Jacqueline Gold’s death comes less than three months after that of her father, David, the joint chairman of West Ham United. He died at the age of 86 after a short illness. He had given her work experience at Ann Summers in 1979, when she was 19, having bought the four-store sex shop chain a few years earlier.

Unimpressed by the men-only atmosphere, she went on to take the brand into Tupperware-style home selling parties, which brought vibrators into the sitting room of middle England and gave women a chance to earn their own money.

Gold became chief executive of Ann Summers in 1987 and took it on to more than 100 high streets across the UK, turning its women-friendly products such as the Rampant Rabbit vibrator into household names.

A visionary with a unique retail offering

Her family said in a statement: “It is her vision and creativity that saw Ann Summers grow from an unknown brand to a British household name and staple of the British high street.

“From an internship to chief executive officer in less than 10 years, her determination and commitment to creating a unique retail offering led to the creation of a multichannel retail chain, consisting of retail stores, direct sales ambassadors, and a fast-growing online and third-party business.”

A legacy of empowerment

She is survived by her husband, Dan, and daughter Scarlett.

Jacqueline Gold’s legacy as a trailblazer and pioneer for women in business will not be forgotten. She paved the way for many female entrepreneurs and empowered women to take control of their sexual experiences and financial futures. Her impact on the world of business, as well as on the lives of the women who were inspired by her, will be felt for many years to come.



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