Small businesses in Cornwall nursing thousands of pounds in losses after sudden collapse of Virgin Orbit

By Luke Barr,
Published by This is Money, 15 April 2023

Small businesses in Cornwall are nursing thousands of pounds in losses after the sudden collapse of Virgin Orbit.

Sir Richard Branson’s satellite launch company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US this month, extinguishing any lingering hope that it could become a mainstay on the Cornish coast.

Virgin Orbit’s plan for the first orbital space launch from British soil came to a crashing halt in January with the failure of its mission from Newquay.

Burnt: Simon Dean says his Newquay-based firm, All-pac, is owed £1,300 by Virgin Orbit

Court documents reveal creditors include many local businesses, such as catering firms and hotels. Cornwall council and the BBC are also named.

Simon Dean, who runs All-pac Packaging Supplies in Newquay, is owed £1,300. ‘I have been sending emails to people, but they are not being answered,’ he said, adding that to chase the money he would have to go to Virgin Orbit’s head office in Long Beach, California.

‘We’re not a big enough company to do that. I’d have to hire someone else.’

There was huge excitement in the run-up to the launch as locals were promised new jobs and investment.

Virgin Orbit’s chief executive, Dan Hart, even told this newspaper that the firm could shift part of its manufacturing to England.

Unsurprisingly, its collapse has left many deflated.

‘I feel let down because you heard lots of people saying it would be good for the area and bring a lot of noise,’ said Dean.

‘You get a name like Virgin and you don’t think they are going to be fly-by-nights. But they now owe thousands of pounds to lots of people and Richard Branson just moves on. ‘

South West Hire and Sales is another firm hung out to dry by Virgin Orbit. Depot manager Callum Kirk said its Newquay branch is owed around £3,000.

His emails to the company have also gone unanswered.

Virgin Orbit was contacted for comment.

See: Original Article