There was a vendor-laden line-up of speakers at the Retail Business Show in Olympia today, so the hottest draw was undoubtedly the keynote presentation – the story of Jacqueline Gold, the woman behind Ann Summers.

It was a pity that the good lady didn’t turn up to deliver it…

Still, the company’s Ian Wallis stepped into the breach and gave an interesting run-through of the numerous challenges Ann Summers has faced over the years.

It gave you a sense of how hard the company has had to work to develop its network of 135+ stores, particularly in regional and smaller shopping centres that have often been reluctant to give it a lease.

But at the same time, consumers have been shifting online and Wallis had various web-related successes to point to, including its internet casino and bingo offerings.

He added that a new version of its main site was “in the final stages of testing” and unveiled a couple of upcoming viral email campaigns that left many in the audience not sure where to look.

One presumes they are related to the highly innovative Viral Academy the company set up recently, and that they will get more than a few views. 

News of a revamped site should also please the company’s male clientele – Wallis said men make up 60% of its web customers but only a fifth of its shoppers in store.