Global entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson has today announced that he will invest £215m into his Virgin businesses in order to protect jobs following the outbreak of Covid-19.
In a statement to his staff, he said: “This is the most significant crisis the world has experienced in my lifetime. I usually think out loud and often share my every thought, but the scale and breadth of serious issues affecting our people and our businesses this week have meant this is the first chance I have had to put my thoughts down on paper.
“Millions of people and thousands of businesses are being severely impacted by the ongoing pandemic. There are more than 70,000 people across 35 countries who work in Virgin companies, all of whom have been deeply affected by the pandemic in different ways. Because many of our businesses are in industries like travel, leisure and wellness, they are in a massive battle to survive and save jobs. Our airlines have had to ground almost all their planes; our cruise line has had to postpone its launch; our health clubs and hotels have had to close their doors and all bookings to our holiday company have stopped.
“We are supporting our people and our businesses in their fight for survival in numerous ways. We are providing a quarter of billion dollars over the next weeks and months to protect them and save jobs – that is likely just the start.”
Branson went on to say that global recovery would “depend critically” on governments implementing the support programmes to counter the virus.
The entrepreneur’s pledge comes after he was heavily criticised last week by after Virgin Atlantic announced it told staff to take eight weeks of unpaid leave following a sharp drop in customers.