Richard Branson: Virgin Holdings in the red

Richard Branson offloaded the failing Virgin Megastores business to Zavvi in 2007. But, despite Branson’s efforts to protect his remaining interests from the music company’s debts, his latest accounts show that the entrepreneur accumulated losses of some £300m at the firm. Net debt at Virgin Holdings has now risen to £1.4bn.

Zavvi also failed to turn around the fortunes of the music and film retail chain. It went into administration last year following the poor performance of the 125-store strong acquisition.

Other Virgin failures include: Virgin Bride. Branson founded the high risk bridal business in 1996 but disposed of the company last year for only £1. Not to mention Virgin Drinks. Branson tried to take on the might of Red Bull and Coca Cola, but the firm posted a net loss of more than £7m and liabilities of £131m in March 2007.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom for the Virgin tycoon. Barfair, a Virgin holding company that oversees Virgin’s drinks and holiday firms, saw profits of £55m last year. Branson is plumbing the cash straight back into another venture however, using $165.6m (£102.2m) of Barfair’s profits to bankroll Virgin America, the Virgin tycoon’s new airline in the United States. Barfair will lend the new venture a further $62.4m over the coming year.

Branson’s other business coups include: the sale of Virgin Mobile Canada for c. $160m.

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