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Jacqueline Gold, the founder of Ann Summers, died at the age of 62, according to her family. After seven years of treatment for breast cancer, the businesswoman died on Thursday evening. Her family said they feel “unspeakable sadness”.
The family statement said: “It is with unspeakable sadness that Ann Summers confirm our amazing executive chair Jacqueline Gold CBE passed away yesterday evening with her husband Dan, daughter Scarlett, sister Vanessa, and brother-in-law Nick, by her side.”
Her sister Vanessa said: “Jacqueline courageously battled stage four breast cancer for seven years and was an absolute warrior throughout her cancer journey.”
She was made a CBE in the 2016 New Year Honours for services to entrepreneurship, women in business and social enterprise.
Ann Summers’ first location opened in 1970 as a standard sex shop before being purchased a year later by brothers Ralph and David Gold.
Ms Gold joined the company at the age of 19 and had the idea to transform the brand into a more female-friendly chain as part of the Party Plan concept.
She became Ann Summer’s CEO in 1987, transforming the company into a multi-million-pound enterprise, with a sales force of over 7,500 women party planners, 136 high street shops in the UK, Ireland, and the Channel Islands, and an annual turnover of £117 million in 2008.
The company now has 140 stores in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.
Her success led to appearances on The Apprentice’s celebrity edition and the ITV show Fortune – Million Pound Giveaway. During her stint at the Apprentice, she was part of “The Girls” team with Kirstie Allsopp, Clare Balding, Louise Redknapp, and Lisa Snowdon.
“The Girls” won the competition, raising over £400,000 from ticket sales and on-the-night sales at one of their West End stores.
Her TV presence did not end there as she became the subject of several documentaries, including Back to the Floor, Ann Summers Uncovered, So What Do You Do All Day, and Break with the Boss. She also co-presented the daytime business series Mind your own Business on BBC One.
Ms Gold told the BBC her response when people assume she’s only successful because of her father is: “That amuses me”.
“When I’m asked that question I say that if it wasn’t for my success at Ann Summers he wouldn’t have been able to buy two football clubs – Birmingham City and [then] West Ham.
“I’m glad in my own indirect way to have played a big part in that… but I built up Ann Summers on my own.”
Jacqueline was the driving force behind #WOW – Women on Wednesday – a women’s community that provides a space for women to network and celebrate each other’s accomplishments, while also receiving support and advice to help their businesses grow.
Every week, female entrepreneurs and small business owners can participate by tagging themselves or someone they know, telling them about their business, and using the hashtag #WOW on Jacqueline’s Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Ms Gold was estimated to be the 16th richest woman in Great Britain with an estimated wealth of £470 million, according to The Sunday Times Rich List in 2019.
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