Ann Summers wants larger lingerie share

Found on Retail Week:

Sex toys and lingerie specialist Ann Summers is developing its underwear offer as it seeks to become a destination for the “everyday lingerie customer”.

The retailer, famed for its vibrators and dildos, has launched an everyday lingerie range called Pure Lace. Marketing director Fiona Davies said the lingerie push, which will also involve the Knickerbox range, aims to show shoppers the store is not just a destination for occasion underwear.

She said: “We have an opportunity to really understand where the brand is. It is an incredibly sexy brand. It is about getting women to visit us more frequently.”

The new focus on lingerie is part of a five-year business plan drawn up by Davies with managing director Paula Minowa. Alongside the everyday range, Ann Summers will continue to drive sales of its higher-priced ranges such as Genevieve.

Lingerie sales have increased since the recession started as more consumers are staying in, and spicing up their sex lives with new underwear. According to TNS Worldpanel Fashion, sales of underwired bras increased 10% in the 24 weeks to June 21 and the push-up bra market is now worth £80m.

Davies said: “Lingerie sales are very buoyant with staying in the new going out, so it is even more relevant than before.”

As part of the new strategy, the retailer will open 20 shops in the next year. It will also grow its multichannel offer and develop its Ann Summers parties, where a consumer signs up to act as a party host and receives commission for every Ann Summers product they sell, which it said have been popular during the recession as an extra revenue stream for consumers, with applications rising and about 7,500 parties held each year.

Davies said: “The key opportunity we have is the interesting business model that includes web, stores and parties. It brings us a discreet and interesting relationship with the customer.”