The Virgin Group has sold its 50 per cent share in loss-making design consultancy Rodney Fitch & Co to the company’s management amid speculation that Virgin plans to hive off more unprofitable companies.
Rodney Fitch & Co is believed to be up to 2m in debt to Virgin, which will be written off as part of the deal, although Virgin refuses to comment on the company’s financial position.
Virgin was a founding partner in the creation of the design group in 1993, together with Rodney Fitch himself, who had previously left the agency he started up called Fitch.
Rodney Fitch has personally financed the purchase of the Virgin stake by selling his controlling share in design group Wickens Tutt Southgate to the consultancy’s management. In 1996 Fitch rescued Wickens Tutt Southgate from bankruptcy, and the business has since recovered.
A Virgin spokesman says: “We have sold Rodney Fitch & Co because we found we did not have a need for an in-house design capability.”
Rodney Fitch was unavailable for comment. Rodney Fitch & Co creative director Gabriel Murray says: “Business is down in some areas and up in others – certainly our Far East business (the company has an office in Hong Kong) was not as good as it ought to have been. The deal means we can make our own decisions.”