Adam Black, the former managing director of Feather and Black, launched his online venture, Drift Sleep, in September last year with Matthew Hardcastle, formerly of Shop Direct and eBay.
The concept is simple. Drift sells one mattress in five different sizes with a 100-nights free return policy and a 10-year guarantee.
The mattress, which is manufactured by Harrison Spinks in Leeds, has a natural sleep surface, containing wool and cotton, and 4,000 pocket springs in a king size mattress. It is delivered free next day, rolled up in a bag, ready to sleep on. In its first six months of trading, the company has sold 800 mattresses online and is ‘cash neutral’, according to Black.
So far, only seven per cent of customers have returned the product under its policy. Now the management team is in ‘advanced discussions’ with a number of well-known high street names to enable customers to see and feel the product.
“It used to be that customers were doing their research on the high street and buying online,” Black said. “Now, lots of people find the product online but they want to go and touch and feel it to make sure they have made the right decision.”
He also has an eye on International expansion but not immediately because that would require securing extra capital, he said.
“We would probably need to have private equity events to expand internationally,” he said. “We know a few people who would like to talk to us but we’re not at that stage yet.”
Drift is rated highly by customers and has an average score of 4.7 stars out of five on an online review site. “People are increasingly focused on excellence. If we can’t achieve five star reviews then we shouldn’t be selling,” said Black.
Drift Sleep, which is completely self-funded at present, competes against two other UK companies for the mattress in a bag concept with the same guarantee.
They have branched out into pillows and bedding but Black is less keen to diversify. He already has an upmarket bed and mattress company - Button and Sprung - as well as bedding firm Secret Linen Store.
“My personal view is that the simplicity of what we offer and our supply chain means that I am comfortable doing one thing well,” he said.
“Lifestyle brands are complicated because they have complicated supply chains. I’m not sure it’s for me.”
Black is part of the well-known Black family in Yorkshire. Keighley-based Peter Black Holdings, which was founded by and named after his grandfather in the 1940s, became one of the UK’s largest suppliers of shoes, handbags and gift packs to Marks & Spencer, Tesco and Next.
After leaving Feather and Black in 2013, Black teamed up with investors including ex-Asos international director Jon Kamaluddi and Asos’s former head of IT strategy Martin Strotton to launch online bedding retailer Secret Linen Store.
The firm, which doubled its turnover to £1m last year, dispatches straight to the consumer from its supplier in Portugal, meaning it can offer products at up to half the price of rivals.