Retail guru Phil Wrigley joins as investor in online retailer Ortso

AN Edinburgh-based online shopping site has secured the backing of retail veteran and Habitat chairman Phil Wrigley, who is set to plough a "six-figure" sum into the business as it launches a major marketing drive.

• Ortso chief executive Steve Jones, left, with retail veteran and new investor in the online firm Phil Wrigley

Wrigley, the former head of fashion giant New Look and current chairman of Habitat, Majestic Wine and LXB Retail Properties, has also joined the advisory team at Ortso.

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The website - which sees retailers compete against each other to win customers' business - is currently trading under its trial name, Biduhappy, and will be renamed Ortso at the start of next month to differentiate it from other sites that have since sprung up, such as

Wrigley's investment will help the firm launch a 2 million marketing campaign in the New Year in a bid to establish the brand as an alternative to the high street and other online retailers.

The retail guru, who has also worked at director level for BHS, Dorothy Perkins and Debenhams, said: "Ortso is a very interesting start-up with a great product, excellent team and perfect timing.

"Retailers are having to be ever more inventive, looking for new ways to deliver value to the consumer: Ortso gives retailers this opportunity and I'm delighted to be involved both as an investor and a mentor. Watch this space."

The so-called beta site has been up and running since last year. Users list the products they wish to buy, then Ortso's UK-only vetted retailers submit offers in real time - in what the company says is a first in e-tailing. Sellers compete on price and add-ons, such as extended warranties, free delivery and other extras.

Its retail offering spans 11 product areas including electronics, baby products, home and garden, photography, sports equipment and travel accessories.

Wrigley, credited with transforming New Look into one of the UK's biggest womenswear retailers, joins an advisory team that includes Ortso's founder Murray Dundas and Bruce Langham, a director of Hibernian FC.

Dundas, an Edinburgh-based entrepreneur who has held roles at Safeway, Dixons Stores Group, Clydesdale Bank and National Australia Group, formed the company in 2007 with private capital. Langham was formerly managing director of Telewest and chief executive of Aston Villa and Fulham FC.

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Steve Jones, chief executive of Ortso, who joined the firm in 2009 after two years as group commercial director of Incisive Media in London, said: "Ortso has major commercial aspirations and it's only fitting that we have a big hitter of Phil's magnitude involved.

"His track record in retailing over the last 25 years speaks for itself and his counsel will be very much valued by the management team.The fact that he's invested personally in the business speaks volumes."

The business has grown to employ six staff, and Jones told The Scotsman it aimed to have ten by early next year and 30 by the end of 2011.

The company is also talking to venture capital and private equity businesses, with a view to raising further working capital.