Meet the Timpsons
John Timpson was born in 1943 and was educated at Oundle and Nottingham University. After a six month Graduate Training Scheme with C & J Clark at Street, he joined the family footwear business William Timpson Limited, becoming the Director responsible for buying in 1970. Following the acquisition of the Company by the UDS Group in 1973, he became Managing Director of leather and fur retailers, Swears & Wells Limited and in 1975 was appointed Managing Director of William Timpson his original family business.
In 1983 John led a £42m management buyout of the Company which had become part of the Hanson Trust. In 1987 he sold the shoe shops to rival retailer George Oliver and subsequently concentrated on building up the shoe repairing and key cutting business, which he has diversified into engraving, watch repairs, dry cleaning and photo processing.
In September 1995 John acquired the 120 shop Automagic chain and in April 2003 bought Minit UK which added another 200 shoe repair shops. In June 2008 the company acquired over 40 Sainsbury concessions, trading as Persil Services, and in December 2008 bought 187 shops branded Klick and Max Spielmann. In January 2017 Timpson acquired 198 Johnsons and Jeeves dry cleaning shops. Timpson now has over 2,000 branches nationwide with a turnover of £300m and profits of over £20m. It is a private business wholly owned by John Timpson and his family.
He was a Trustee at Uppingham School and until its merger with the NSPCC was a trustee of ChildLine. He has also been Chair of the Governors at Brookway High School, Wythenshawe, Delamere Primary School, Cheshire and Terra Nova School in Cheshire. In 2000 he wrote a book ‘Dear James,’ which passes on to his son the lessons learned in 30 years as a Chief Executive. A management maverick, he describes his business philosophy in ‘How to Ride a Giraffe’, ‘Upside Down Management’ and ‘Ask John’. ‘High Street Heroes’ was published in 2015 and‘Under Orders’,the diary of a racehorse owners’ husband. His latest book ‘Keys to Success ‘ was recognised as a CMI management book of the year. For 11 years John has had a weekly column in the Daily Telegraph.
John is well known for his unique business style which he calls ‘Upside-down Management’ and he is leading a campaign to encourage all schools to be aware of the special education needs of looked after children. In 2004 he was awarded the CBE in the Birthday Honours List for Services to the Retail Sector and in 2017 was knighted for his services to business and fostering. John’s main leisure interests outside the business are connected with sport, he regularly plays Tennis, Golf and Real Tennis.
James Timpson OBE DL
James has been Chief Executive since 2002, helping the business grow to over 2100 shops, and developing several innovative ways to run the business at a time when traditional High Street retailing has suffered.
The growth in photo, dry cleaning, barbering and locksmiths has combined with a rapid expansion of Timpson shops in out of town locations. More than half of Timpson shops are now in supermarkets and supermarket car parks. The Pod concept, first starting in James’s local Tesco in Warrington, and now seen in over 500 sites, is pioneering a new way to offer retail services out of town.
The key to the growth of the business has been our continual development of the culture of Upside Down Management. A culture based on trust and kindness works when we recruit colleagues with an amazing personality. At Timpson everyone is equal, and it is James’s job to ensure his colleagues are happy in their jobs. To do this there are various benefits such as free holiday homes, a Dreams Come True scheme, weekly Lotteries and mental health support. This has ensured Timpson has been one of the UK’s best companies to work for over the last 18 years.
James pioneered the recruitment of ex-offenders, to the extent that Timpson now employs over 600 prison leavers (this is over 10% of the Company). James is Chair of the Prison Reform Trust and supports various prison charities and support groups, and was presented with an OBE in 2011 for the training and employment of disadvantaged people.
James is also a Tate Trustee, a Deputy Lieutenant of Cheshire and an Albert Medal winner from the RSA. James and Roisin live in Cheshire with their 3 children Bede, Patrick & Niamh.
William Anthony Timpson
Noel Mursell Timpson
Deputy Managing Director 1929—1949
Managing Director 1949—1960
William Henry Farey Timpson
Joined the company 1896
Managing Director 1912—1929
President 1960 - 1961
William Timpson was born in Rothwell on the 20th May 1849, he was the youngest of 8 children. His parents Anthony and Mary lived in a small cottage in Crown Yard. By the age of 8 he was already making money by making and selling leather boot laces. He also often carried boots for outside workers from Rothwell to Messrs Gotch’s boot factory in Kettering for repairs.
At the age of 11 William was sent to Manchester to work with his elder brother Charles delivering boots around Manchester. After an argument with Charles, William returned to Rothwell to learn shoe making with Tom Butlin (who later became his brother in law). William then started to work for an old shoe repairer in Rothwell and took over his business when he died.
At the age of 16 William returned to Manchester to join his brother in law, Walter Joyce with whom he started a retail boot and shoe business at 298 Oldham Road in April 1865. In May 1870, William started his own business by opening a shop at 97 Oldham Street, Manchester. With the success of this first shop, William was soon able to start and open more shops around Manchester.
Due to ill health William decided to move back to Kettering. William still managed to keep an eye on his business by travelling to Manchester every other Tuesday by train and return on either Friday or Saturday. William was a well known traveller from Kettering to Manchester as he did this journey for nearly 40 years and held a 1st Class season ticket the whole time.
The business went from strength to strength and William expanded the business wisely with the help of Mr David Gotch and Mr T.A Mursell. With the business growing, a new warehouse in Manchester was opened in 1895 in Great Ducie Street. It was said that this warehouse could hold 40,000 pairs of shoes, a massive amount for the time.
William’s son William Henry Farey Timpson joined the company in 1896 and started working at the Oldham Street warehouse in Manchester and after 18 months he took over managing the Great Ducie St warehouse and in 1912 he became Managing Director. William was active in the business until 1903 when his health would not let him travel as much and the hard slog of finding new sites for stores became more demanding. In the years up to the Great War, William passed on more and more to William Henry and by 1919 he only made one or two trips to Manchester.
William died on January 23rd 1929. His funeral was held in Kettering and even though it was Saturday afternoon shops closed as a mark of respect. The streets were silent as the people of Kettering lined the streets as his funeral procession passed through the town.