Virgin Group

Virgin Group Ltd. is a British multinational venture capital conglomerate founded by entrepreneurs Sir Richard Branson and Nik Powell.

Virgin Group Ltd.
FoundedFebruary 1970 (1970-02)
FoundersRichard Branson
Nik Powell
Area served
Key people
Commercial aviation
Commercial spaceflight
Consumer electronics
Health care
Mobile phones
Rail Transport
Revenue £19.5 billion (2016)
Number of employees
Approximately 71,000
Footnotes / references

Virgin Group's date of incorporation is listed as 1989 by Companies House, who class it as a holding company; however Virgin's business and trading activities date back to the 1970s. The net worth of Virgin Group was estimated at £5–5.5 billion as of November 2014.


The brand name "Virgin" arose when Richard Branson and Nik Powell formed a record shop. They considered themselves virgins in business.[2] Branson has described the "V" in the logo as an expressive tick, representing the Virgin seal of approval.[2]

The original logo was a completely different design intended to be used for the record company that was founded by Richard Branson and Nik Powell. According to Richard Branson in interviews and on the Virgin website, the more recent signature logo was based on one that a designer scribbled on a napkin after a design meeting.[3][4] After signing the Sex Pistols to the label it was clear that there would need to be a rethink on the design.

Corporate affairs

Virgin Group has its headquarters at The Battleship Building in the Paddington district of the City of Westminster.[5] Previously it was in The School House in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham.[6]

The Virgin Group of companies have a complex structure that contains elements of a generic conglomerate and a keiretsu, and sometimes it simply licences its brand. Examples of licensing are Virgin Records and Virgin Media, which are owned by Universal Music Group and Liberty Global respectively.

In mid-May 2013, the Virgin Group expressed its intention to seek out opportunities in Australia's healthcare industry to consolidate on the Group's Australian fitness centres. The Group also runs over 100 National Health Service (NHS) services in the United Kingdom and the healthcare division of medical services group Assura after entering the British healthcare industry in 2011.[7]

Virgin Group announced the establishment of Virgin Voyages on 4 December 2014 with financial backing from Bain Capital. The cruise line would be led by CEO Tom McAlpin, would have two new large ships built and be based in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area.[8][9]

Virgin StartUp

Virgin StartUp is the Virgin Group's not-for-profit company, helping entrepreneurs across the UK to start, fund and scale their business. In 2013, Sir Richard visited Boxpark in Shoreditch, London, to launch the new organisation, revealing that he wanted to support anyone that had the same dreams and ambitions that he did as a young boy: “It was £300 from my mum that sparked the Virgin adventure 40 years ago. Today, young people need that same help and I believe Virgin StartUp will provide it – with access to early capital, strong mentorship, advice and promotion.”[10]

The organisation became a delivery partner for the UK Government's Start Up Loans Company,[11] providing loan finance of between £500 and £25,000, advice, and mentoring to thousands of start-ups across the country. In 2016, it was awarded European Regional Development Funding[12] and subsequently launched Ready, Steady, Grow with Virgin StartUp, a programme of support aimed at start-ups that were ready to grow. A year later, it launched the UK's first equity-based crowdfunding accelerator programme, Crowdboost.[13]

By 2018, the organisation had supported over 11,000 UK-based entrepreneurs, with over £35m in pre-seed funding.


In 2014, Branson and Virgin StartUp launched the "Foodpreneur" food and drink focused start-up competition. Winners received mentorship from Branson, legal support, and brand counseling.[14] The 2014 winners included Proper Beans, Killer Tomato, Sweetpea Pantry, and Sweet Virtues.

In 2015, winners were given the opportunity to pitch Target Corporation buyers in the US. The 2015 winners included Pip & Nut, Double Dutch Drinks, Harry Bromptons, Cauli Rice, and Mallow and Marsh.[15]

Only one start-up was announced winner of the 2017 Foodpreneur prize, The Snaffling Pig Co., who won a six-week rental space at Intu Lakeside, the retail center with the highest foot traffic in the U.K.[16]

Subsidiaries and investments

Virgin Active 20% Health, Gym Chain
Virgin Atlantic 51% Travel, Airline
Virgin Australia Holdings 8% Travel, Airline
Virgin Books 10% Publishing
Virgin Care 100% Health
Virgin Connect 15%[17] Travel, Airline
Virgin Experience Days 80% Hospitality
Virgin Galactic 33% Travel, Aerospace
Virgin Holidays 51% Travel, Tour Operator
Virgin Hotels 100% Travel, Hotel Chain
Virgin Hyperloop One Travel, High-speed rail
Virgin Limited Edition 100% Travel, Hotel Chain
Limobike 100% Travel, Motorbike Taxi
Virgin Media 0% with 100% owned by Liberty Global Communications
Virgin Megastores 100% Retail
Virgin Mobile 100% Communications
Virgin Money UK 13% [18] Banking
Virgin Oceanic Travel, Undersea
Virgin Orbit 33% Aerospace
Virgin Pulse 100% Business Services
Virgin Racing 100% Motorsport
Virgin Radio 100% Entertainment, Radio
Virgin Rail Group 51% Travel, Trains
Virgin Sports 1% Sports
Virgin Trains USA Travel, Trains
Virgin Unite 100% Charity
Virgin Startup 100% Charity
Virgin Vacations 100% Travel, Tour Operator
Virgin Voucher 100% Retail
Virgin Voyages 49% Travel, Cruise line

Formerly owned ventures


The parent company, Virgin Group Holdings Ltd, is registered in the British Virgin Islands. Richard Branson and his family hold a £2.7 billion stake in this offshore, tax-free, tax haven company.

The group's health business received significant media coverage over its legal battle with NHS groups. It sued clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in Surrey after it lost out on an £82 million contract to provide children's health services across the country. The NHS bodies settled out of court with a £328,000 payout to Virgin Care, resulting in some controversy. More than 100,000 people backed a petition calling on the company to stop "dragging the NHS through the courts".[20][21]

See also

  • London portal
  • Companies portal


  1. "About us". Retrieved 18 January 2015.
  2. Branson, Richard (1998). Losing My Virginity: The Autobiography. London: Virgin Books. ISBN 1852276843. OCLC 901482660.
  3. "Extra: Richard Branson Full Interview". Freakonomics.
  4. ANash (15 August 2016). "The Virgin logo".
  5. "Our company information Archived 31 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine". Virgin Group. Retrieved 14 October 2013. "The Battleship Building, 179 Harrow Road, London W2 6NB"
  6. "Our company information Archived 31 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine." Virgin Group. Retrieved 14 January 2009. "The School House 50 Brook Green London, W6 7RR England"
  7. Kitney (20 May 2013). "Virgin Group eyes slice of Australia's $65bn healthcare market". The Australian. Retrieved 20 May 2013.
  8. Sampson, Hannah (23 June 2015). "Virgin Cruises to base first 2,800-passenger ship in Miami". The Miami Herald. Retrieved 24 June 2015.
  9. Stieghorst, Tom (4 December 2014). "Richard Branson to enter cruise business". USA Today. Retrieved 24 June 2015.
  10. Murray-Morris, Sophie (6 November 2013). "Richard Branson launches Virgin StartUp at BoxPark Shoreditch". Hackney Post. Retrieved 3 August 2019.
  11. "Virgin StartUp". Start Up Loans. Retrieved 3 August 2019.
  12. "LIST of ERDF PROJECTS IN THE LONDON LEP AREA" (PDF). London Enterprise Panel.
  13. "Virgin StartUps launches CrowdBoost, a crowdfunding acc". Retrieved 3 August 2019.
  14. Platt, Ryan (22 September 2014). "Winners of Richard Branson's "Foodpreneur" competition announced".
  15. Foster, Charlie (5 October 2015). "Richard Branson announces 2015 Foodpreneur Festival winners". Virgin.
  16. Clarkson, Natalie (26 July 2017). "Virgin StartUp and Intu have named The Snaffling Pig Co as the winners of Virgin Foodpreneur 2017". Virgin.
  17. Dyson, Molly (11 January 2019). "Virgin Atlantic and Stobart agree Flybe take-over". Buying Business Travel. Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  19. Ski - Feb 1986 Page 16 "The program, called "Virgin Snow." is available in seven resorts this season, including Zermatt, Verbier, Val dTsere and St. Anton."
  20. Dobinson, Isabel (8 December 2017). "Tens of thousands demand Virgin Care return £328,000 NHS payout". GetSurrey. Retrieved 6 November 2019.
  21. "More than 100,000 demand Richard Branson 'stop dragging NHS through courts'". The Independent. 8 August 2018. Retrieved 6 November 2019.
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