When a company is known for it’s founder it can be a problem. When the person behind the company wants to retire what does the company do? Virgin is having this discussion right now.
However, Virgin’s investment committee has started to put together a succession strategy for when Sir Richard, who is worth an estimated Â£4 billion, is no longer involved at all.
One question hovering over the future of the group is the possibility of a family succession: Sam Branson, Sir Richard’s 21-year-old son, has just finished nine months working at Virgin Media with one of the group’s most trusted brand managers. Dr Holly Branson, 24, is also expected to join the group’s new health sciences division after working in the National Health Service.
The possibility of another Branson taking charge, though, is a long way off. In the meantime, Virgin is looking to move beyond the traditional markets where it is well known after more than two decades of Sir Richard’s hot-air ballooning and other escapades.
Mr Murphy said: We are working methodically to position the brand as being separate to Richard. In the US, there is greater perception of Virgin and Richard being separate because they have got more of a cult of business celebrity. The next generation also has a much lower level of aware-ness. But we do not feel we have accelerate the disassociation artificially.â€