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Entrepreneurs Panel

David Pollock
Jeremy Roberts
Michael Oliver
Tony Caldeira
Debbie Pierce
Laura Tenison
Charlie Mullins
Julie Meyer
Jennie Johnson
Brian Hay
Steve Purdham
Richard O'Sullivan

Richard Branson failures unmasked

The failures of three of Sir Richard Branson’s companies have been revealed.

According to reports in the Times Sir Richard accumulated operating losses of more than £300 million from the Virgin Megastores retail business.

The 125 UK stores were sold two years ago to Zavvi, which went into administration at the end of 2008.

Virgin Holdings, a company that owns a number of Sir Richard’s businesses, submitted its accounts for the year to the end of March 2008 only last week and they reveal the full extent of the Megastore losses. The accounts show that the company’s profits plummeted from £151.7 million in 2007 to a loss of £227.3 million after being hit with a one-off operating loss of £324.3 million.

A Virgin Group spokesman told the Times that this was because of losses accumulated over many years at the Megastores, which were formally written off when the business was sold.

Virgin Holdings, which includes Sir Richard’s profitable rail and airline businesses, wrote off nearly £21 million when it sold Virgin Vie cosmetics to a management buyout. It paid a further £8.8 million to remove the Virgin name from the company.

Meanwhile, accounts for Barfair, another Virgin holding company, reveal that the assets of Virgin Bride were sold for only £1 after the closure of its last store in Manchester.

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