Ann Summers, the sex store chain, said that the popularity of the Fifty Shades trilogy had led to soaring sales of nipple clamps and other sex toys at its shops.
“Fifty Shades of Grey, like Sex and the City before it, has got women everywhere talking about sex and encouraged them to be more intimate, experimental and confident,” said Jacqueline Gold, the chief executive.
The company, which also organises Tupperware-style parties for women to buy lingerie and ‘adult accessories’, has seen sales of nipple clamps increase fifteenfold in the past year alongside double-digit increases in sex toy sales as shoppers buy into the lifestyle described in EL James’s erotic novel.
The book, whose tale of bondage and domination is credited for thrusting erotic literature into the mainstream, has sold 65m copies worldwide and topped bestseller lists.
As a result, Gold said she expected the company to double its profits this year while sales are expected to reach £150m, up 27% from the £118m the company achieved in the year to June 2011. Gold said Ann Summers was benefiting because shoppers were “bored with austerity. They are saying ‘give us something exciting,'” she said.
Fifty Shades has helped Ann Summers bounce back from a tough 2011 and the company is now aiming to open up to nine new shops this year after a string of closures. It hopes the trend will continue as a Fifty Shades of Grey film is on the cards and the book’s success has spawned a library of copycat erotic fiction.
“Books of that kind have moved from the back of the bookshop into the window. I don’t think it is all about Fifty Shades,” Gold said. She added that she expected the effect to last up to five years as the company was also taking its sex toys and lingerie to a wider audience through deals with mainstream retailers.