Virgin looks for help

NO OTHER BUSINESS figure holds a candle to Sir Richard Branson when it comes to public-relations stunts. Not all of the British entrepreneur’s capers go off without a hitch, however: he was once rescued by an RAF helicopter when his speedboat capsized while attempting a record-breaking Atlantic crossing. His record in business with his Virgin-branded empire is also studded with successes and failures, among the latter being Virgin Cola, Virgin Brides (an attempt to disrupt the wedding industry) and Virgin Cars (a short-lived online retailer). Through thick and thin the bearded tycoon has hustled on, armed with a high-profile brand and a cheesy perma-grin. At the end of 2019 his empire was estimated to be worth over £4bn ($5.1bn)
That, though, was before covid-19. The Virgin group was heavily exposed to virus-induced shutdowns: among its businesses are two airlines, hotels, gyms and a cruise line. (Other interests include banking, mobile-phone and broadband networks and space tourism.) In March Sir Richard—who owns Virgin outright—said its travel, leisure and wellness businesses faced “a massive battle to survive and save jobs”.

His carefully crafted image as the corporate world’s lovable outsider has taken a hit. Critics cried hypocrisy when Virgin Atlantic (VA), a long-haul airline, asked the British government for a…

Read More