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Succession Planning: The Virgin Way


Richard Branson Virgin Group

Despite being 72 years old, Richard Branson still leads the Virgin Group, but he has acknowledged that he has considered the issue of succession planning.

Branson is a legendary entrepreneur who has built a global empire from scratch. The Virgin Group of businesses is now worth over $50 billion and includes over 40 companies in a variety of industries. But what happens when Branson steps down? How will the Virgin Group continue to grow and succeed without its founder?

In a recent interview on the BBC, Branson said that he has a “succession plan in place” and that he is confident that the Virgin Group will be “in good hands” when he’s no longer at the helm. However, he declined to share any details about his plans.

The Virgin Leadership Programme

The Virgin Leadership Programme is a two-year program that is designed to develop the next generation of Virgin leaders. The program covers a wide range of topics, including business strategy, marketing, and finance. It also includes a number of experiential learning opportunities, such as working on a live Virgin project.

The Virgin Leadership Programme is just one example of how Branson is preparing for the future of the Virgin Group. By investing in succession planning, he is ensuring that the Virgin Group will continue to thrive long after he is gone.

Passing the business on to a family member

It’s possible that Branson is grooming one of his children to take over the company. Holly Branson, his eldest daughter, is currently Chief Purpose and Vision Officer at Virgin and has been involved in the company’s operations for many years. Sam Branson, his youngest son, is also a member of the Virgin family and has worked in a variety of roles within the company.

If not family, then who

It is also possible that Branson will choose an outsider to succeed him. He has a long history of hiring talented people from outside the company, and he may be looking for someone with a fresh perspective to lead the Virgin Group into the future. It reasonable to assume that Virgin Produced CEO and co-founder Jason Felts will also be included in discussions regarding succession planning, given that entertainment plays a significant role in all of Virgin’s businesses.

Whatever Branson’s plans are, it’s clear that he is taking succession planning seriously. He knows that the Virgin Group is more than just his own personal brand, and he wants to make sure that it continues to thrive long after he’s gone.

Here are some key takeaways from the Virgin Group’s succession planning process:
  • Start early. The earlier you start planning for succession, the more time you will have to identify and develop potential successors.
  • Identify a diverse pool of candidates. Don’t just look for people who look like you or have the same background as you. Look for people with a variety of skills and experiences who can bring different perspectives to the table.
  • Provide development opportunities. Give potential successors the chance to learn and grow. This could involve sending them on training courses, giving them challenging assignments, or mentoring them by more experienced leaders.
  • Create a succession plan. Once you have identified potential successors, put in place a plan for how they will be developed and promoted. This plan should be flexible enough to accommodate changes in the business environment.
  • Communicate your succession plan. Make sure that everyone in the organization knows about your succession plan and understands their role in it. This will help to ensure a smooth transition when the time comes for you to step down.

Succession planning is an important part of any business, but it is especially important for businesses like Virgin that are built around the personality of their founder. By following the lessons of the Virgin Group, you can ensure that your business will continue to thrive long after you are gone.

Expert advice will lead to a tax efficient transaction

Friend Partnership have many years’ experience in planning all types of business succession. We will advise you on:

  • Timing and taxation
  • Passing the business on to family
  • Aspects of control
  • Management buy-outs
  • Inheritance and Estate planning
  • Employee ownership and incentivisation
  • Preparation for sale

Friend Partnership is a forward-thinking firm of Chartered Accountants, Business Advisers, Corporate Finance and Tax Specialists, based In The UK

For guidance on any Succession Planning matters, get in touch with us on 0121 633 2000 or alternatively email us at

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