LONDON — Jacqueline Gold, who helped make lingerie and sex toys a female-friendly mainstream business as head of Britain’s Ann Summers chain, has died, her family said Friday.
Gold’s father, David Gold, bought the four struggling Ann Summers sex shops in the early 1970s. Jacqueline joined as an intern several years later, rising to become director, then chief executive and finally executive chairwoman.
She ditched the firm’s forbidding men-only atmosphere and made them more appealing to women, with female-friendly products sold both in shops and through women-only, at-home gatherings inspired by Tupperware parties.
Under her, Ann Summers became a familiar feature of the British high street, with more than 80 stores nationwide.
She told the BBC radio show “Desert Island Discs” in 2018 that it was “a real culture change” for the business.
“Female empowerment has always been at the heart of everything we do,” she said.
The family statement said Gold’s “vision and creativity” turned Ann Summers “from an unknown brand to a British household name.”
“Jacqueline is best-known for founding Ann Summers and leading a business run by women, for women. She was also an activist for women in business, and championed female entrepreneurs with the ambition to better the working environment for women,” the family said.
Gold was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in 2016 for services to entrepreneurship, women in business and social enterprise.
Sister Vanessa Gold, who is now chief executive of Ann Summers, said “Jacqueline courageously battled stage four 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.”
Gold died two months after her father, who was co-chairman of Premier League soccer team West Ham United.
She is survived by her husband Dan Cunningham and daughter Scarlett, as well as her sister.