Branson may quit UK for the US

Richard Branson, one of Britain’s most successful marketers, is considering quitting the country to cross the Atlantic and build his empire in the US.

Richard Branson, one of Britain’s most successful marketers, is

considering quitting the country to cross the Atlantic and build his

empire in the US.

The Virgin Group is cranking up its profile in the US, with Virgin

Atlantic Airways, Virgin Cola and Virgin Megastores scaling up activity

in the US. Other divisions of Branson’s empire are set to follow.

Branson’s plans to move to the US were confirmed by Will Whitehorn,

Virgin corporate affairs director and Branson’s right-hand man. Branson

believes the only way for Virgin to have the same impact in the US as

the UK is to move there.

The group’s total international ad spend will rise by 36.4% this year to

reach pounds 47.8m, as advertising begins to take a more important role

in the promoting of the brands.

In the UK last year, Virgin doubled its ad spend on all its products to

pounds 17m. This year that figure will rise by around one-third.

Virgin has decided to double the frequency of its seven transatlantic

routes, although this will depend on the outcome of the British

Airways/American Airlines deal. Virgin is also studying services from

London to Chicago, Atlanta and Las Vegas.

The Virgin Megastores chain will be expanded to 50 outlets by the year

2000, up from seven. There are also plans to launch Branson’s music

publisher, V2, in the US and to expand distribution of Virgin Cola.

Other possible US launches include Virgin’s financial services and its

clothing and cosmetics brand. However, both of these are still in their

infancy in the UK.

Branson, in an interview with US magazine Advertising Age, acknowledges

the part his personal profile has played in establishing the brand. He

recognises that it may take his permanent presence in the US to lift the

Virgin name there.


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