Branson buys island for staff

Branson buys island for staff - Is this guy the best boss in the world?
17th May 2003
(Credit: Sunshine Coast Daily)

Is there anyone out there who doesn't want Sir Richard Branson as a boss?

The teeth-flashing tycoon has further endeared himself to his Aussie aviation staff by buying a $3 million island in the Noosa River that will be turned into a Virgin employee retreat.

News of the ultimate staff incentive broke yesterday, four months after the Sunshine Coast Daily first reported Sir Richard was rumoured to be the island's mystery buyer.

The nine-hectare isle upstream from Tewantin has a pontoon and a house, a renovated three-bedroom Queenslander, plus a boathouse converted into an artist's studio.

While most bosses are locking the liquid paper away in cupboards, Sir Richard plans to spend another $2 million developing the island into an eco-tourism retreat for his hard-working Australian and international staff.

It will even have treehouse accommodation and should be ready for its first flying guests in a year.
"What makes Virgin so special is our people,'' the billionaire said yesterday.

"This will be a wonderful retreat for them and it will also be a great way for our team to spend time together and to get to know each other outside of a work environment.

"It will be a lot of fun and I am looking forward to spending more time in Australia and sharing this delightful island with our wonderful team.'' Fun has been a trademark of Sir Richard's Australian aviation outpost, Virgin Blue, since it launched itself on to the Australian market on August 31, 2000.

The flight attendants crack jokes, the check-in staff actually smile and even the airline's name for its red-andwhite planes is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the Aussie habit of calling redheads "Blue''.

Sir Richard confirmed the island purchase in Perth yesterday while visiting the West Australian capital to celebrate an increase in Virgin flights.

Virgin Blue, which employs about 2500 people across Australia, also recently increased its flights to the Sunshine Coast.

It added a direct route from Melbourne to Marcoola last month.

The Virgin Group also owns Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands, which is run as a business for external visitors.

Makepeace Island will be Virgin's first staff island.

News of Virgin's latest acquisition came one day after Sir Richard announced Virgin Blue had more than tripled its profits for 2003, reporting a $110.3 million net profit for the year to March, up from $35.3 million.

He also revealed his intention to float 20% of the airline later this year, despite resistance from joint venture partner Patrick Corp.

Asked what potential shareholders would make of the purchase of an island, Sir Richard said it had been privately acquired.

"Because analysts can be very strange creatures ... three of us have bought it personally in order for the staff to get it rather than doing it through the company, so we can avoid those sorts of questions.''


Official websites



The Virgin Files

Media Man Makes Property Splash



Richard Branson

Necker Island


Travel and Tourism

Eco Tourism