After a turbulent retail history Ann Summers had a stellar performance over the Christmas trading period.
The UK lingerie and adult products retailer’s Christmas sales were enhanced by its collaboration with male cast members of The Only Way is Essex, which encouraged men to buy underwear for their partners as gifts. The campaign gained significant press coverage and led to last-minute gift purchases.
Ann Summers should build on its existing wholesale partnerships with Asos and House of Fraser, which grew 72 per cent over the period, to help guarantee sales with minimal risk. Selling through other established retailers will also help Ann Summers compete with growing lingerie retailers such as Boux Avenue which also reported positive Christmas results, with like-for-likes rising 16.6 per cent, and have announced further store openings in the pipeline.
The retailer’s online sales over the Christmas period were impressive at 54 per cent. However, Ann Summers faces increasing competition from online pureplays, such as LoveHoney, which are preferred by many consumers as online is a more discreet way to shop. Ann Summers can better compete with these retailers by lowering its £50 spend for free delivery online and allowing customers to select a discreet packaging option on its website.
Ann Summers is expected to see a surge in sales in February as it benefits from Valentine’s Day and the release of the erotic film, 50 Shades Darker. However maintaining sales momentum through spring and summer without the boost from gifting occasions will remain a struggle for the retailer.
- Fiona Paton is an analyst with Verdict Retail.