The former boss of beds retailer Feather & Black has teamed up with investors including ex-Asos director Jon Kamaluddin to launch a bed linen etailer.
Adam Black has spearheaded the launch of Secret Linen Store, which went live this week and aims to tap into the £1.1bn bed linen market.
Black, who is non-executive chairman, said the mid-market business is based on a “direct to consumer” model that dispatches straight from the manufacturer. Secret Linen Store uses suppliers in northern Portugal, which Black said is a “centre of excellence for mid to upmarket bed linen”.
Black and his team, which includes his former Feather & Black colleagues Molly and Harriet Freshwater, have designed the product, branding and packaging, while the manufacturer has financed the stock.
The low-cost model means Secret Linen Store can offer product at lower prices and Black claimed the etailer can sell products at half the price of rivals including John Lewis.
“The opportunity to take costs out of the traditional model is really exciting,” said Black. “There’s no rent and no storage costs. The business will be profitable in the first six months because it’s got such a low fixed cost base.
“We can make it beautiful and shout about prices.”
Black said retailers need to “relearn how to make money out of lower gross margins”. He called the direct to consumer model the “future of retail” in home because the sector makes lower gross margins compared with fashion for instance, yet incurs greater costs delivering. “The whole of the home sector will be rewritten,” he said.
He said that although Secret Linen Store is selling a niche product, the etailer will be able to propel growth by moving into overseas markets. “This business will work as well in Europe and Northern America,” Black said.
As well as Asos’ former international director Kamaluddin and Black, Asos’ former head of IT strategy Martin Strotton is also an investor in the business.
Black likened the model to furniture etailer Made.com but said Secret Linen Store is a niche silo business, whereas Made.com is a generalist that sells across many categories.
He said Secret Linen Store could be a disruptor in the same way Asos has been in fashion. “There will be generalists like Achica, eBay and Amazon, then there will be silo businesses that will be the best at what they do,” said Black.
The etailer will be investing in Google search, pay-per-click advertising and social media to get the brand known. “There are 70,000 searches for bed linen each week,” said Black.
Black said Secret Linen Store offers “fabulous designs, a great swatch service and returns policy”.
He said future plans will include tying up with “Collect+ and all those sorts of things”.
The business was launched start to finish within six months, according to Black.