Beautiful Virgin Islands


Sir Richard Branson thought 'we were going to lose everything' in pandemic

Sir Richard Branson thought 'we were going to lose everything' in pandemic

Sir Richard Branson has said he feared he was going to lose his entire business empire during the pandemic.

The British businessman said he found a media backlash "painful" after the Virgin Group asked the UK government for a loan to save the company.

Given his personal wealth and home on a Caribbean island, he was criticised for asking for a bailout when airline Virgin Atlantic hit trouble.

Sir Richard told the BBC he personally lost around £1.5bn during the pandemic.

The struggles to save his businesses left him "a little depressed" for a couple of months, he said. "I'd never experienced that before in my life."


Worst case scenario


He explained: "We had 50, 60 planes all on the ground, and the health clubs all closed, the hotels all closed. And the worst [case] would have been 60,000 people out on the streets."

The support the company requested was, he said, "not gifts from government, but underwriting loans so the cost to the airline... was not prohibitive."

The government refused his request for a reported £500m bailout, however. A private rescue deal eventually saw the Virgin Group inject £200m, with an additional £1bn provided by investors and creditors.

"There was a time when I thought we were going to lose everything," Sir Richard said. "We sold shares in companies that were public and that was one way we managed to find money."

Sir Richard, pictured with burlesque artist Dita Von Teese in 2010, said people would feel "uncomfortable" with such photoshoots today


In a wide-ranging interview with the BBC's Amol Rajan, Sir Richard also discussed his marketing campaigns and publicity stunts of the past - often involving glamorous women, who he sometimes threw over his shoulder.

Asked if those stunts now made him wince, he replied: "It would make me wince if I felt the women were uncomfortable at all.

"I don't think that I ever made anybody feel uncomfortable. In those days, it made them smile... But today obviously, I think people would feel uncomfortable with something like that.

"So it's changed and I fully accept that. And I've changed alongside everybody else."

Sir Richard Branson travelled to space in 2021 in his Virgin Galactic commercial space plane


In 2021, Sir Richard achieved a lifelong ambition and reached the edge of space in his Virgin Galactic commercial space plane. "It was one of those most extraordinary days, every aspect of it", he said.

He defended space exploration as a worthwhile investment, when asked whether launching rockets should be a priority for the ultra-rich, or is compatible with tackling climate change - a cause to which he has devoted extensive effort and money.

"Communication between people is being transformed because of space travel and satellites up there," he said. "Monitoring things like the depredation of rainforests and illegal fishing... [there are] all these kinds of benefits that come from space travel."

However, his satellite launch rocket company Virgin Orbit filed for bankruptcy in the US last month after failing to secure new investment.


Succession planning


In recent years, Sir Richard has also campaigned to promote awareness of dyslexia, a term rarely used and even less understood when he dropped out of school at 15. He revealed that, shortly after being sent to boarding school aged seven, he was beaten so badly - "for being stupid" - that he bled.

"It was... pretty horrendous in those days. And yes, as a dyslexic, I thought I must be stupid because they had never heard of [it]. The word dyslexic didn't exist."

As well as dyslexia, Sir Richard thinks he probably has attention deficit disorder, and acknowledged he does get bored easily.

At the age of 72, the businessman still heads the Virgin Group - but admitted he does have thoughts about succession planning.

"We have serious discussions as a family about how the company can transform hopefully thousands people's lives in the years to come and hopefully in the centuries to come," he said.

Newsletter

Related Articles

Beautiful Virgin Islands
0:00
0:00
Close
Ukraine's Fight Against Corruption Gains Ground Amid War
I have a dream, MLK inspiring speech
Czech President Petr Pavel Injured in Motorcycle Accident
Aretha Franklin, Marvis Staples - Oh Happy Day
Record Number of Abortions in England and Wales
BVI Freedom Song
Paul McCartney Honours Bruce Springsteen at Ivor Novello Awards
Billy Preston - You Can't Beat God Giving (Live)
US and UK to Reject ICJ Ruling on Israel's Rafah Offensive
VIRGIN ISLANDS REGGAE CARIBBEAN RIDDIMZ
World Court Orders Immediate Halt to Israeli Offensive in Gaza
Oh Happy Day Edwin Hawkins - Anthony Brown w FBCG Combined Choir
Understanding FLiRT COVID Variants and Their Impact
'Stand by Me' performed by Karen Gibson and The Kingdom Choir
Baltic NATO Members to Construct 'Drone Wall'
National Anthem of the British Virgin Islands - Oh, Beautiful Virgin
Global Life Expectancy Dropped By 2 Years Due To COVID-19
Hello Dolly
Macron Halts New Caledonia Voting Reform After Riots
for KING & COUNTRY - Amen (Reborn) [feat. Lecrae & The WRLDFMS Tony Wi
Rishi Sunak Shelves Rwanda and Smoking Policies Ahead of Election
Bob Marley - Get Up Stand Up
US Refuses World Court Jurisdiction
Yes He Can
China Conducts Surprise Military Drills Around Taiwan
What A Friend We Have In Jesus
Grim Polls Predict Major Loss for PM Rishi Sunak
Unforgettable
Rishi Sunak's Campaign for UK Election: Key Issues Highlighted
Touch The Hem Of His Garment
German Property Crisis Worsens as Foreign Investment Declines
The Lord's Prayer
Princess of Wales's Taskforce Calls for Business Investment in Early Childhood
THE GOD MOVEMENT...BEAUTIFUL BVI
Campaign Groups Condemn UK Report on Protests
Siyahamba
Former Royal Marine Charged with Espionage Found Dead
Ray Charles And The Voices Of Jubilaton, Oh, Happy Day
Australian PM Calls for Julian Assange's Freedom
Ramblin' Rose
ICC Seeks Arrest Warrants for Israeli and Hamas Leaders
Protoje - Who Knows ft. Chronixx
UK's Infected Blood Scandal: Conclusion Nears After Seven Years
Pressure - Virgin Islands Nice
Julian Assange Granted Right to Challenge US Extradition
Phil Wickham - House Of The Lord
Congo Army Thwarts Attempted Coup Involving Americans and a British Citizen
My God Is Real (Yes, God Is Real)
Ireland's Homeless Gain Voting Rights
The Lion King Circle of Life by LEBO M. — LIVE at the HAVASI Symphonic
Blinken orders crackdown on Israel-Hamas leaks
Louis Armstrong - When The Saints Go Marching In
Julian Assange Faces US Extradition: Key Facts
Kanye West Sunday Service - hallelujah, salvation, and glory
Jacob Zuma Takes Campaign to ANC Stronghold Soweto
Jonathan Nelson - I Believe (Island Medley
Attempted Assassination of Slovakia PM Robert Fico: Investigation Ongoing
From The Virgin Islands Sqad Up
What Happens If an Iranian President Dies in Office?
Common, John Legend - Glory
Spain Recalls Ambassador After Argentina President's Remarks
Anthony Evans vs. Jesse Campbell - If I Ain't Got You
Rishi Sunak Faces Cabinet Backlash Over Proposed Changes to Foreign Student Visas
I have a dream, MLK inspiring speech
Rwanda Denies Entry to Human Rights Researcher
Aretha Franklin, Marvis Staples - Oh Happy Day
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi Reportedly Killed in Helicopter Crash
BVI Freedom Song
Blue Origin Resumes Space Tourism with 90-Year-Old Ed Dwight
Billy Preston - You Can't Beat God Giving (Live)
Rishi Sunak and Wife Akshata Murty Wealthier Than King Charles
VIRGIN ISLANDS REGGAE CARIBBEAN RIDDIMZ
New Dutch Government Drives Wedge Through EU Liberals
Oh Happy Day Edwin Hawkins - Anthony Brown w FBCG Combined Choir
Iranian President Raisi Missing After Helicopter Goes Down
'Stand by Me' performed by Karen Gibson and The Kingdom Choir
Freemasons and ‘Global War Party’ Accused of Conspiring Against Georgia
National Anthem of the British Virgin Islands - Oh, Beautiful Virgin
Poland Supports Rolls-Royce's Nuclear Power Plant Initiative
Hello Dolly
European Ports Overflow with Unsold Electric Vehicles
for KING & COUNTRY - Amen (Reborn) [feat. Lecrae & The WRLDFMS Tony Wi
Esprit Files for Bankruptcy in Europe, Putting Hundreds of Jobs at Risk
Bob Marley - Get Up Stand Up
Chevron Halts North Sea Drilling Amid Rising Tax Burden
Yes He Can
Jeremy Hunt Accused of Exaggerating Conservatives' Economic Record
What A Friend We Have In Jesus
Victoria Atkins Discusses Historical Gender Bias in the NHS
Unforgettable
Dublin and Monaghan Bombings 50th Anniversary: Calls for Justice
Touch The Hem Of His Garment
Rishi Sunak and Akshata Murty’s Wealth Rises to £651 Million
The Lord's Prayer
New Caledonia Riots Escalate After French Voting Rights Change
THE GOD MOVEMENT...BEAUTIFUL BVI
Renters Face Fierce Competition as Listing Times Shrink
Siyahamba
Surge in Fake Science: 19 journals shut down due to fraudulent papers from 'paper mills'
Ray Charles And The Voices Of Jubilaton, Oh, Happy Day
×