Our timeline

Our story begins in 1967 when Richard launched Student magazine, aged 15.

1970s

1970

The Virgin brand is born. Virgin Mail Order starts selling cut price records in Student.

1971

Virgin opens its first record shop.

1972

Richard purchases a residence in Oxfordshire, England and uses it to open the first Virgin Records recording studio, called The Manor.

The Sex Pistols, The Rolling Stones, Janet Jackson, The Smashing Pumpkins and The Spice Girls would all eventually appear on Virgin's label.

Richard Branson in the 1970s in the Student magazine office
Image from the Branson family

1973

Virgin Records and Virgin Music Publishing launch in the UK. Virgin Records later expands to the USA (1986).

1977

Virgin Records goes where all other major record labels fear to tread - like belting out “God Save The Queen” on Silver Jubilee day, opposite the Houses of Parliament.

1978

Richard purchases Necker Island, which later becomes his family home.

1979

The first Virgin Megastore opens. The brand later expands globally, including Japan (1990), the USA (1992), the Middle East (2001) and Australia (2002).

Richard Branson in the 1970s sitting in the shop window of Virgin Records
Image from Barry Plumber

1980s

1981

We get into gaming with Virgin Games (later to become Virgin Interactive), releasing video games for classic systems such as the Amiga, the ZX Spectrum, the Amstrad CPC and the C64.

1984

Virgin takes to the air for the first time, launching Virgin Atlantic.

1985

Virgin Holidays arrives. Not content with just getting people there in style, we want to keep them there in style. For around two weeks or so, anyway.

Mates Condoms launches. A non-profit low-cost condoms company, it was aimed at young people to help combat the AIDS crisis.

Richard Branson celebrating surrounded by the media in front of a Virgin Atlantic aeroplane
The Branson family

1986

Miami anyone? Virgin Atlantic buys another Boeing 747 to launches its second route from London Gatwick to Miami.

1987

The Virgin Airship and Balloon Company (later to become Virgin Balloon Flights) takes off.

It becomes quite hard to keep Richard’s feet on the ground…

Three Virgin balloons taking to the sky at the Bristol Balloon Fiesta
Image from Virgin Balloon Flights

1990s

1991

Virgin Publishing is formed (later becoming Virgin Books).

1992

Virgin Records sells to Thorn EMI for $1 billion.

1993

We hit UK airwaves with Virgin Radio (which relaunches in 2015). Virgin later expands to open stations in Thailand (2002); India (2006); Italy (2007); France, Dubai, Turkey (2008); Jordan (2009); Canada (2010); Lebanon (2013); Indonesia (2015); Romania (2017); Oman and Switzerland (2018).

1994

Virgin Cola and Virgin Vodka launch as part of Virgin Drinks.

1995

Virgin Direct launches.

Virgin Cinemas launches.

Richard Branson in a wet suit sitting in a fountain with a Virgin Cola bottle
Image from Virgin.com

1996

V2 Music, Virgin.net, Virgin Brides, and Virgin Express are born.

The first V festival is held in the UK. It later expands to the USA and Canada (2006). Rock on.

Virgin Trains launches and the following year is awarded a 15 year franchise for the West Coast Main Line route in the UK.

Richard Branson smiling with his hands in his pockets walking alongside a Virgin Train
Image from Virgin Trains

1997

The Virgin Cosmetics Company launches.

Virgin Direct launches the Virgin One account with Royal Bank of Scotland.

1998

Virgin Books publishes Richard's first autobiography, Losing My Virginity.

The front cover of Richard Branson's book 'Losing my Virginity'
Image from Virgin.com

1999

Virgin Mobile launches in the UK.

The brand later expands to Australia (2000); the USA (2002); Canada (2005); China, France, South Africa (2006); India (2008); Chile, Poland (2012); Columbia (2013); Mexico, Saudi Arabia (2014); UAE (2018).Virgin Active launches in the UK.

The brand later expands to South Africa (2001); Italy (2004); Spain, Portugal (2006); Australia (2008); Singapore (2013); Thailand (2014).

Virgin Active launches in the UK.

The brand later expands to South Africa (2001); Italy (2004); Spain, Portugal (2006); Australia (2008); Singapore (2013); Thailand (2014).

Richard Branson in a crowd waving a big Virgin Active flag
Image from Virgin Active

2000s

2000

Richard receives a knighthood for services to entrepreneurship.

Virgin Blue launches in Australia.

Virginmoney.com, Virgin Cars, Virgin Energy, Virgin Student and Virgin Wines launch.

Virgin Wines later expands from the UK to the USA (2010) and Australia (2011).

Richard Branson and a large group of Virgin Blue employees standing in front of a Virgin Blue aeroplane
Virgin Blue | Launching Australia's first low-cost airline

Virgin Limited Edition launches with Ulusaba (South Africa), Necker Island (British Virgin Islands), and the Roof Gardens (UK).

The portfolio later expands to Kasbah Tamadot (Morocco) in 2006; The Lodge (Switzerland) in 2007; Mahali Mzuri (Kenya) in 2013; Mont Rochelle (South Africa) in 2014 and Son Bunyola (Mallorca) in 2016.

A group of rangers standing in front of Ulusaba Rock Lodge
Image by Jonathan Cosh of Visual Eye

2001

Virgin Trains unveils its innovative Pendolino trains.

Virgin Money is born after Virgin Direct merges with Virginmoney.com. It later expands to Australia (2002), South Africa (2006) and the USA (2008).

Virgin Experience (later to become Virgin Experience Days) launches.

After the tragic events of 9/11, the aviation industry enters a global slump. Most airlines cut back, but Virgin Atlantic invests more in customer experience - including commissioning a new Clubhouse at London Heathrow.

A Virgin Train Pendolino in motion on a railway track
Image from Virgin Trains

2002 - 2003

2002

Virgin Money's credit card launches in the UK.

2003

Virgin Atlantic introduces its 'Upper Class' suite, with innovative, fully flat beds - and unveils its new Clubhouse.

An image of Virgin Atlantic's first class lounge
Image from Virgin Atlantic

2004

Virgin Unite, the non-profit foundation of the Virgin Group, is founded to unite people and entrepreneurial ideas to create opportunities for a better world.

Virgin Galactic, the world's first commercial spaceline, launches.

Virgin Digital launches a download and subscription music service.

Virgin Games launches Virgin Casino and Virgin Poker.

Virgin Galatic's SpaceshipTwo glides through the sky
Image from Virgin Galactic

2005

Virgin Unite incubates two initiatives in South Africa: Pride ’n’ Purpose and the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship, which later expands to Jamaica (2011).

A group of Virgin employees smile and hold their hands up in celebration
Image from Clare Louise Thomas | Virgin Unite

2006

Virgin Media is born from a merger of Virgin Mobile UK, Virgin.net and NTL Telewest. It later expands to Ireland (2015).

Virgin Fuels (later to become Virgin Green Fund) launches. Two years later Virgin Atlantic is the first airline to fly a Boeing 747 using biofuel.

Virgin Unite and partners open the Bhubezi Healthcare Clinic in South Africa. With Virgin Mobile USA, it also launches RE'Generation to support at-risk and homeless youth.

Richard Branson and Usain Bolt smile and pose together
Image from Tom Oldham | Virgin Media

2007 - 2009

2007

Virgin America launches.

Virgin Health Miles (later to become Virgin Pulse) launches in the USA.

Virgin Unite partners with Nelson Mandela and Graça Machel to form The Elders.

2008

V Australia and Virgin Healthcare launch.

2009

Virgin Money Giving launches.

Virgin Racing launches its own Formula 1 team.

Virgin Digital Help launches.

Virgin Unite incubates the Carbon War Room (now merged with the Rocky Mountain Institute).

The Elders stand around a sitting Nelson Mandela
Image from Jeff Moore | The Elders

2010s

2010

Holly and Sam Branson launch education charity Big Change at the Virgin Money London Marathon, breaking a world record with 32 friends linked together as a giant caterpillar.

Virgin Produced makes its debut with science fiction thriller Limitless.

Virgin Unite supports the launches of Galactic Unite and the Ocean Elders.

Richard Branson celebrates crossing the finishing line of the Virgin London Marathon
Image from Virgin Money

2011

Virgin Australia is formed from the merger of Virgin Blue, V Australia, Pacific Blue and Polynesian Blue.

Richard joins the Global Commission on Drug Policy.

Virgin Money UK acquires Northern Rock at the second attempt.

Richard Branson in a Newcastle football shirt gives a thumbs up from a window
Image from Virgin Money

2012

Virgin Care launches as a private provider for the NHS.

Virgin Galactic announces orbital space-launch system LauncherOne, now part of Virgin Orbit.

Virgin Pure launches.

Virgin Trains loses - then regains - the West Coast Main Line route after successfully challenging the UK government decision in court.

A group shot of Virgin Orbit employees celebrating
Image from Virgin Orbit

2013

Virgin StartUp launches.

Virgin Galactic’s spaceship VSS Enterprise makes its first powered flight.

Virgin Racing Formula E team launches.

Virgin Unite and Richard partner with Jochen Zeitz to incubate The B Team.

A group of people in discussion around a table
Image from Virgin StartUp

2014 - 2015

2014

A tragic accident during a Virgin Galactic test flight leads to the death of pilot Mike Alsbury. The incident was devastating to the whole team, but they vowed not to give up.

2015

Virgin Trains East Coast launches.

Virgin Hotels' first property opens in Chicago.

Virgin Group invests in OneWeb.

The entrance to Virgin Hotels Chicago
Image from Virgin Hotels

2016

Ship ahoy! The Virgin Voyages brand is born.

Virgin Sport is founded. Its first festival takes place the following year.

Richard joins Breakthrough Energy Ventures.

An overhead image of the front of the ship Scarlet Lady
Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady | Image from Virgin Voyages

2017

Virgin Orbit is founded.

Not-for-profit foundation Unite BVI is founded.

Virgin Group invests in Hyperloop One to create Virgin Hyperloop.

An image of Cosmic Girl flying above the clouds
Image from Virgin Orbit

2018

Virgin Books publishes Richard's second autobiography, Finding My Virginity.

Virgin Money UK merges with CYBG.

Virgin Pulse merges with RedBrick Health and acquires SimplyWell (formerly Viverae) to create the world’s leading employee-health platform.

After a successful Virgin Galactic test flight, VSS Unity becomes the first vehicle built for commercial service to put people into space.

Richard Branson and his son Sam Branson embracing and looking happy
Image from Virgin Galactic

2019

Virgin Hotels opens its second property in San Francisco, with further expansion planned across the USA (Dallas, Las Vegas, Nashville, New Orleans, New York) and beyond, including the UK (Edinburgh).

Brightline unveils Virgin MiamiCentral Station as its Florida hub.

Virgin Orbit conducts its first drop test successfully.

Virgin Bet launches.

The entrance to Virgin Hotels San Francisco
Virgin Hotels

2020s

2020

Virgin turns 50, and Virgin by Design is published by Thames & Hudson to celebrate.

Virgin Hotels Dallas and Virgin Hotels Nashville open.

The Virgin Group responds to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Richard turns 70.

The book cover of Virgin By Design
Image from Virgin.com.