Skyscanner exec Corstorphine takes first chair role

Houseology Design Group has appointed Skyscanner big- hitter Shane Corstorphine as its new chairman as the online retailer targets overseas growth.

Shane Corstorphine (left) and Andy Russell of Houseology Design Group. Picture: Stewart Attwood

Corstorphine, senior vice president and former financial chief at Edinburgh-based Skyscanner, will replace serial entrepreneur Bill Dobbie as chairman at the Glasgow-headquartered furniture and lighting specialist.

Corstorphine is considered instrumental in the tech unicorn’s growth, and has supported the travel search site in completing a series of investment rounds, including Sequoia Capital’s backing in 2013 and Ctrip’s £1.4 billion acquisition of the company in 2016.

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He now advises a number of start-ups and scale-ups and is a non-executive director at social enterprise venture Brewgooder, with this latest appointment marking his first role as chair.

It comes as Houseology, whose client list includes Skyscanner, FanDuel, Trainline, Chivas Brothers and Baxters, unveiled ambitious targets to boost international sales from 10 per cent to 40 per cent of overall revenue in coming years. The group is also gearing up for a fresh investment round over the next 12 months.

Existing investors include former Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy, who is also an adviser to the board; Bill Currie, founder of the William Currie Group that specialises in investments in the retail, e-commerce and tech sectors; and Mike Welch, founder of online tyre retailer Blackcircles.com.

Corstorphine, who began his career with global accountancy firm PwC before moving to senior positions at Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays, said: “Houseology is now in a unique position to disrupt this multi-billion-dollar vertical whilst helping people and companies to create amazing designer spaces.

“Indeed, it’s something the group’s bureau division did to great effect at Skyscanner’s global headquarters in

Edinburgh.

“The proprietary technology being developed by the team is an amazing opportunity and, overall, I’m looking forward to supporting them through this next phase of significant growth.”

The Glasgow firm is currently on track for its highest annual turnover yet of more than £14 million and has achieved a compound annual growth rate of around 35 per cent since Andy Russell took over as chief executive in 2016.

It comprises two main divisions: online retail arm Houseology.com and commercial furniture consultancy Bureau, which was founded by Russell and acquired by Houseology three years ago.

The group is due to roll out its online business-to-business (B2B) offering before the end of 2019.

Russell said: “Shane’s expertise, in all things digital and as a key part of Skyscanner’s incredible success, will be pivotal in guiding our senior team including the scaling of our new online B2B platform due for launch later this year.”

Leahy also endorsed Corstorphine’s appointment, adding: “Shane brings valuable experience from online B2C [business-to-customer] and B2B, overseeing one of the UK’s greatest technology start-up to global scale-up success stories of recent times and we are all extremely pleased to have him in place.”