Virgin Case

In: Business and Management

Submitted By zoezhou
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VIRGIN GROUP Resource: Exploring Corporate Strategy

Introduction The Virgin Group is one of the UK's largest private companies, with an annual turnover estimated at £3bn per annum by 2000. Virgin's highest-profile business was Virgin Atlantic, which had developed to be a major force in the international airline business. However, the group spanned over 200 businesses from financial services through to railways; from entertainment mega stores and soft drinks to cosmetics and condoms. (Figure 1 shows the breadth of the group's activities.) Its name was instantly recognizable. Research showed that the Virgin name was associated with words such as 'fun', 'innovative', 'daring' and 'successful'. The personal image and personality of the founder, Richard Branson, were high profile; in British advertisements for Apple Computers, together with Einstein and Gandhi, he was featured as a 'shaper of the 20th century'.

Origins and ownership Virgin was founded in 1970 as a mail order record business and developed as a private company in music publishing and retailing. In 1986 the company was floated on the stock exchange with a turnover of £250 million. However, Branson became tired of the public listing obligations. Compliance with the rules governing public limited companies and reporting to shareholders were expensive and time-consuming, and he resented making presentations in the City to people whom, he believed, did not understand the business. The pressure to create short-term profit, especially as the share price began to fall, was the final straw: Branson decided to take the business back into private ownership and the shares were bought back at the original offer price, which valued the company at £240 million. Virgin had grown fast, becoming profitable and entering and claiming a significant share of new markets without the traditional trappings of the typical…...

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