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Sex Sells (But Not Enough)

Posted on Sep 02, 2020. by NTI

A survey conducted by the Retail Gazette in February 2020 reported that while consumers are more likely to remember sexually provocative ads, retailers have turned down the heat in recent years in a bid to appeal to a wider market. Andy thinks the research behind this survey was based on the leaving gift his auntie Madeline received from her colleagues when she left Asda after 17 years in frozen food. She was given some weighted metal kegal love balls and a 'The Dark Hours Chemise' with which, the advertising blurb assures you, the wearer can 'seduce effortlessly' with 'trendy after dark appeal'. Apparently her fellow employees thought it was hilarious to watch his auntie's face as she unwrapped the packages in the public bar of The Organ Inn just off the A339, but Andy's uncle Cedric has had the last laugh; he has been straining his beans in the chemise all summer.

Marilyn Munroe said: “It's not true that I had nothing on. I had the radio on,” but even she would need to don her most captivating smile during the meetings Jacqueline Gold, the chief executive of the sex toy and lingerie retailer, will be having with some of the Ann Summer's landlords, ... "who continue to bury their heads in the sand when it comes to ... discussions about turnover-linked rent and reductions that others have already agreed to."

The 'party store' has seen a surge in online sales of sex toys during lockdown, with up to 70 per cent off items that Aarati still think are small thermos flasks, but what looks good on the screen does not necessarily display well on the washing line and customers still like to wander around shops, nudge and titter and the rent of those stores is killing the brand. So much so that the retailer is threatening landlords with a restructuring if they do not agree to new terms.

Ralph Gold, joint chairman of West Ham United, the Premier League football club, installed his daughter as chief executive in 1981 and she developed its 'party plan' sales strategy, copying Tupperware parties, where you don't leave with a set of stay-fresh containers, but with something that will never pass off as an air-freshener. Ann Summers has about 100 shops, but is planning to follow other retailers in pursuing a Company Voluntary Arrangement to push through rent reductions.

Ms Gold wrote in Retail Week that a CVA “isn’t something we do lightly but there is no point [investing] just to subsidise those landlords who continue to cling on to outdated terms”. A spokesman said that the CVA would “only affect those stores where we have been unable to agree new terms”. These landlords may well have to whipped into shape and if there is any retailer with the wherewithal to do that it is Ann Summers. 

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