Part of complete coverage on
Virgin: Taking on the high street banks
updated 1:07 PM EDT, Thu July 26, 2012
- The Virgin Group consists of more than 200 companies in over 30 countries
- Virgin Money bank opened its first branded high street branch in Guildford July 2012
- Richard Branson says he wants companies to invest "to get us all out of the mess we are all in"
(CNN) -- As Virgin begins to tackle high street banking, its boss Richard Branson says the company must remain "bold" despite the recession.
Virgin opened its first branded Virgin Money store in Guildford this month. It is a rebranded Northern Rock store, following Virgin's acquisition of the nationalized British lender in January.
The push into a new market comes as other business leaders may be scaling back in response to the financial crisis. But according to Branson, now is a time to strive for more.
Virgin is "very fortunate," Branson told CNN. "We've built a brand over 45 years, since I was 15 years old, the public respect it, like it, we have actually ridden through many recessions over the years and seem to have come out stronger for it."
Virgin's belief, said Branson, is to be "bold and be brave in times when things are tough."
The 62 year old tycoon, who started out selling records via mail order in 1970, has overseen the company's growth into a conglomerate consisting of more than two hundred companies in over thirty countries.
See also: Virgin spaceship to blast off in 2013
By venturing into the banking world, Virgin is becoming part of an industry that has fallen out of favor with both the public and politicians. But Branson is not worried.
"There is no point in going into an industry unless you are going to transform it. We won't get greedy -- like one or two banks have done in the past -- and damage the Virgin brand, we will make sure every product we offer is a proper transparent product with great value for money," he said.
Business blog: Branson's busy bathroom break
Branson is pushing for government loans to budding businesses, as a booster for the flagging economy.
"It is important that the banks are stabilized and important that governments encourage banks to lend to small businesses," he said. "We have suggested to governments that instead of student loans they should do entrepreneurial loans for those who want to start up businesses."
And he wants Virgin to lead by example. "Now is the time [that companies like Virgin] should be investing in order to get us all out of the mess we are all in. If we all wait for the other person to invest we will stay in this mess."
CNN's Stina Backer contributed to this report
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:46 AM EDT, Fri April 12, 2013
Turkey is a "source of inspiration" to show how Islam and democracy can go hand-in-hand, the country's deputy prime minister has told CNN.
updated 8:57 AM EDT, Fri April 5, 2013
Bright, shiny and emblazoned with names like Ferrari and Lamborghini -- these brakes are almost as stylish as the cars they're hidden within.
updated 1:23 PM EDT, Thu March 21, 2013
EasyJet's new London to Moscow route is an opportunity to attract more business travelers, according to the low cost airline's chief executive.
updated 1:45 PM EDT, Thu March 21, 2013
If you're a business traveller in Europe, you'll no doubt have complained at length about the regions' airlines, be it the cost of a plane ticket or the quality of the food or the delays.
updated 5:32 AM EST, Fri March 8, 2013
European demands for the steel industry to cap emissions by 2020 are "unachievable" with current technology, according to an ArcelorMittal executive.
updated 1:51 PM EST, Thu March 7, 2013
At Oknoplast's production site outside Krakow, Poland, windows of all shapes and sizes are stacked up ready for delivery.
updated 11:47 AM EST, Fri February 22, 2013
We receive them almost on a daily basis; text messages alerting us that our taxi is outside or our dentist appointment is tomorrow.
updated 11:45 AM EST, Fri February 22, 2013
What happens when you mix detergent, cosmetics and a bucket load of adhesives? You get a multi-billion dollar German corporation called Henkel.
updated 1:24 PM EST, Thu February 7, 2013
It is said that the devil would never dare cross the River Tamar into Cornwall for fear of ending up as a filling in a Cornish pasty. The legend, it seems, could just be true.
updated 1:39 PM EST, Thu February 7, 2013
Europe needs to cut back on its red tape and be more competitive if it is to succeed on a global stage, according to Diageo's chief executive.
updated 12:35 PM EST, Thu January 17, 2013
Booms, busts and bubbles are all jargon you might associate with today's troubled Irish economy. But now you can add "beans" to that list.
updated 12:34 PM EST, Thu January 17, 2013
Multinational companies see Ireland as the "gateway" to investing in Europe, says the boss of the country's largest food company.
updated 6:55 AM EST, Fri January 25, 2013
UK Prime Minister David Cameron's voiced his intentions to let the British people vote on Europe. The mayor of London says it's all part of democracy.
updated 8:26 AM EST, Fri January 11, 2013
It started with one man peddling lavender and rosemary oil at local markets -- now it's a business valued at $4.8 billion.
updated 1:45 PM EST, Thu January 10, 2013
Jaeger LeCoultre CEO Jerome Lambert talks about the benefits of being part of a larger group.
updated 10:07 AM EST, Thu December 27, 2012
CNN's Richard Quest explores how European business leaders have dealt with the financial climate in 2012.
updated 9:51 AM EST, Thu December 27, 2012
CNN's Richard Quest looks at how European businesses have performed amid a cold climate of austerity.
Click here to read more of the top business stories from across the continent brought to you by the Marketplace Europe team.