Sex toys and lingerie chain Ann Summers said today its home parties were setting pulses racing as it unveiled a 19% rise in profits.
The Surrey-based group, which has more than 110 stores across the UK and Ireland, said it was now hosting around 4,000 retail parties a week at women’s homes.
Its traditional high street stores and internet site were also helping to pull in customers.
Pre-tax profits at the company rose to £8.9m (€13.2m) in the year to June 30 2003, while turnover lifted 33% to £64m (€94.9m).
Chief executive Jacqueline Gold said Ann Summers parties had become increasingly popular with women since they were launched in 1981.
“To still be growing this far down the line has even surprised us,” she said.
“It gives women the opportunity to go to a party without men around and look at sex toys and sexy underwear without any embarrassment.”
Ann Summers parties – billed by the group as the “ultimate girls’ night in” - are held at women’s homes and hosted by Ann Summers representatives, who show a range of lingerie as well as sex toys, edible body paints and massage lotions.
Ms Gold said the group’s recent expansion to high profile locations including Manchester’s Trafford Centre and Birmingham’s Bull Ring had also helped lift profits.
Millionaire brothers David and Ralph Gold set up Ann Summers in 1972 and David’s daughter Jacqueline became chief executive in 1987.
Ann Summers hit headlines last month when an advertisement punning on a nursery rhyme was banned for being likely to harm children.
The poster, which was advertising the opening of a new store in Banbury, Oxfordshire, showed a woman in a g-string and bra astride a model horse and was accompanied by the caption: “Ride A Cock Hoarse”.
The ban was handed down by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after complaints from local residents, who said the advertisement was offensive and likely to harm children.