Simon Morris likes the word “love”. “There’s something about it that just works,” he says. But Morris is no wide-eyed romantic. He’s a 46-year-old London adman turned entrepreneur and one of the driving forces behind Lovefilm, the mail-order rental service, which was sold to Amazon in January, for a sum, the Financial Times reported, in the region of £200m.
The company began in 2004 and was immediately pitched into what Morris calls “a real street-fight” with several rivals. It emerged victorious—names such as Screen Select and Webflix are long gone, while Lovefilm claims 1.6m subscribers in Britain, Germany and Scandinavia. Morris is clearly good at listening to his customers, but also talks a good battle: he makes the dry business of mergers and acquisitions sound as adrenaline-pumped as the bare-knuckle brawls in “Fight Club”, a favourite movie of his. He even turns up at the interview sporting a black eye and a limp—the result of an overenthusiastic kick-boxing session.
He has a history of being attracted to what he calls the “rock’n’roll” end of business, and spent some wild years running Ginger TV for the British DJ Chris Evans, during his rackety, drink-’em-under-the-table days. But Morris’s most recent investment is in a company that’s defiantly good for you: Graze, which delivers boxed sets of healthy snacks, tailored online, direct to customers’ desks. After three years, it has more than 400,000 subscribers. And, despite what Morris refers to as his “colourful” past, his wide-boy veneer doesn’t obscure his warmth. During the course of our chat he enthuses about Indian food, books a restaurant as a surprise for his wife, and admits that, as well as “Gladiator” and “Fight Club”, his favourite films include the gentle, cross-generational romance “Harold and Maude”. All the while, he is sipping a hot-pink raspberry lassi. A little bit raging bull? Certainly. But more love, actually.
To complement Morris’s complex persona, we picked a formal, three-piece suit in a grey discreet enough for the boardroom, but with a scaled-up windowpane check that adds a touch of East End swagger, and a bold shirt and tie to give a warm gust of colour. The verdict of the not-so-hard man himself? “Great: louche, shocking, interesting.”
Grey wool checked single-breasted suit, £595, and matching waistcoat, £95, both by William Hunt; dark blue shirt, £28 for a shirt-and-tie set (tie not used), by Next; slim shocking-pink tie, £75, by Gieves & Hawkes; black tasselled loafers, £405, by Mr Hare, available from Cruise.