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Jacqueline Gold, boss of the lingerie chain Ann Summers, has died at the age of 62


LONDON (AP) — Jacqueline Gold, who as head of Britain’s Ann Summers chain helped turn lingerie and sex toys into a female-friendly mainstream business, has passed away, her family said Friday.

She was 62 and was diagnosed with breast cancer seven years ago. Gold’s family said she died Thursday with her immediate family by her side.

Gold’s father, David Gold, bought Ann Summers’ four struggling sex shops in the early 1970s. Jacqueline joined as an intern a few years later, becoming a director, then chief executive, and finally executive chairman.

She ended the forbidding male-only atmosphere in the company and made it more attractive to women, with female-friendly products sold both in stores and at women-only home gatherings inspired by Tupperware parties.

Under her, Ann Summers became a familiar feature of Britain’s high street, with over 80 shops nationwide.

She told the BBC radio program “Desert Island Discs” in 2018 that it was “a real culture change” for the company.

“Female empowerment has always been at the core of everything we do,” she said.

The family statement said Gold’s “vision and creativity” have taken Ann Summers “from an unknown brand to a British household name”.

“Jacqueline is best known for founding Ann Summers and leading a company run by women, for women. She was also an activist for women in business, championing women entrepreneurs with the ambition to improve the working environment for women,” the family said.

Gold was appointed 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 general manager of Ann Summers, said: “Jacqueline fought bravely against stage four breast cancer for seven years and was an absolute warrior throughout her cancer journey.”

“In life she was a pioneer, a visionary and the most incredible woman, all of which makes this news that much harder to bear. As a family we are heartbroken at the loss of our wife, mother, sister and best friend.”

Gold died two months after her father, who was co-chairman of Premier League football team West Ham United.

She is survived by her husband Dan Cunningham and daughter Scarlett, as well as her sister.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.