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Ann Summers

Iconic lingerie and adult toy brand chooses Thrive to transform learning and onboarding for its international teams.
Ann Summers has been blazing the trail for female empowerment for decades. Founded in 1970, the leading lingerie and adult toy brand has had a massive impact on erasing the taboos around female pleasure - and their success speaks for itself. With 80 stores across the UK, Spain and Ireland and plans to expand by five more in 2023, Ann Summers continues to prove that women everywhere want to normalise taking charge of their own sensuality.
User Licenses
Legacy Platform
Use Case
Compliance training
Product knowledge
Sales enablement
Skills development

A retail powerhouse

With over 1,000 frontline retail employees in the UK alone, Ann Summers needed to give them on-demand access to learning opportunities and key communications. Employees also needed the ability to connect and collaborate with their peers from day one, through onboarding and beyond.


Sales increased by 10% for stores using Thrive in a A/B learning test.

Strike rate

Learners using Thrive exceeded business target strike rate of 20%.


Ann Summers has a 98% adoption rate.

Measuring up for a snug fit

With so many employees who aren’t desk-based, a solution that works as effectively on mobile as it does on a laptop was a key priority for the Ann Summers team.  

Add to this bite-sized, visual content that their employees can engage with at their own speed, and they found the perfect fit for their learning culture in Thrive.

More collaboration. More opportunities to learn

With Thrive every new employee receives a personalised, frictionless onboarding experience, giving them access to the learning content they need to perform and progress their careers from day dot.

Whether they’re in head office or on the shop floor, Ann Summers’ teams can connect, collaborate and learn from each other round the clock in an organic, social, user-driven way.

“Innovative. Revolutionary. Fresh.”

Ann Summers’ Learning & Development Partner Becky West said:

“We are thrilled to be entering this partnership with Thrive, which will allow us to unite everyone with our learning strategy and streamline communication. We needed a mobile solution for our frontline staff, and we chose to work with Thrive because they are the most innovative solution out there for learning needs that correlate with our brand.” 
“Feedback from our initial super users has been fantastic. Straight away, they knew how to use it because Thrive is super intuitive and easy to use.”

Proving value

Having now been fully embedded with Thrive for over a year, Ann Summers’ engagement level amongst their learners has remained at an impressive 98%.

Throughout their journey with Thrive, Ann Summers’ L&D team noticed an important correlation: stores with the highest engagement rates demonstrated the highest level of performance. The opposite was also true, in that the lowest performing stores had the lowest engagement rates.

Knowing that they needed conclusive data to prove this correlation to their stakeholders, they levelled up their partnership and approached the team at Thrive Impact.

Enter Thrive Impact

Armed with years of experience in Data and Analytics, the Thrive Impact team visited Ann Summers’ head office for an on-site workshop. Together, they discussed the business’ objectives and how Thrive Impact could help achieve them. This was not simply limited to L&D goals, but encompassed anything the business needed to achieve. After analysing the existing metrics and data, the decision was made to undertake a blended learning experiment.

A culture of experimentation

The aim of the experiment was simple: develop high performing teams who can deliver outstanding customer experiences. Ann Summers knew that their stakeholders would be compelled by an increase in strike rates for their Buzz Fresh and Hosiery lines, so they set out to demonstrate that their learning and development strategy could support them in achieving just that.

Existing strike rates: 14.8% on Buzz Fresh and Hosiery

Targeted strike rates: 20% on Buzz Fresh and Hosiery - with the exception of Region 2, which has a target of 22%.

For the experiment, Ann Summers stores were split into four regions, with Region 2 (The Test Group) receiving a slightly higher target than the others. All other regions were under the umbrella of The Control Group. While the Test Group received a blended learning approach comprising workshops, webinars and learning pathways, the Control Group only received the learning pathways. As the Ann Summers team was able to provide sales data for all regions, the Thrive Impact team could directly track the impact that the blended learning approach had had on the Test Group - and, hopefully prove that Learning and Development was the key to their success.

The results

The success of the experiment was easy to see and quantify. All regions (both those with the blended learning approach, and those with just the learning pathways) saw a year-on-year increase for both product lines. Most importantly, the Test Group who were undergoing the blended learning approach outperformed all other groups in the experiment for the Buzz Fresh line, and came in second place for the Hosiery lines.

By doing this experiment, Ann Summers were able to measure a 10% increase in revenue with Region 2 making £3,617 (over 36%) of that revenue - proving undeniably the positive impacts of their approach.

“Before Thrive, we knew we had some fantastic training in our stores but we had no way to really measure the impact and check that all colleagues had participated in the training. But since implementing Thrive, we now have an easy way to measure the commercial impact our training has on our performance. We can get reporting on what training has been completed, at what level and when. This enables us to make informed decisions and drive future growth.”

What’s next?

Following the success of the experiment, Ann Summers and Thrive have been collectively shortlisted for Best Use of Learning Analytics at the Learning Technologies Awards 2023. Meanwhile, the team at Ann Summers continues to implement the culture of experimentation fostered during the Thrive Impact experiment, both within the Thrive platform and more widely across the organisation. They’re enthusiastic about the “test and learn” culture, so they can consistently improve and grow.

Ann Summers’ annual turnover has hit £100 million in 2023, and they have plans to open even more stores in the coming months.

Becky West

Learning & Development Partner at Ann Summers

“I would definitely recommend Thrive to other organisations. All your learning is in one place and it’s incredibly social. It’s a place where your teams will want to go to learn.”

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