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Power Lunch with John Timpson CBE, Chairman, Timpson

  • Adam Smith Institute 23 Great Smith Street London, SW1P 3DJ (map)

On Upside-Down Management

John Timpson was born in 1943 and was educated at Oundle and Nottingham University. After a six month Graduate Training Scheme with 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 he 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 he 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 Kick and Max Spielmann. Timpson now has over 800 branches nationwide with a turnover of £150m and profits of over £10m. It is a private business wholly owned by John Timpson and his family.

In 2000 he wrote a book ‘Dear James,’ which passes on to his son the lessons learned in 30 years as a Chief Executive. He describes his business philosophy in his latest book ‘How to Ride a Giraffe.

For 10 years he has had his own column under the name ‘Timpo’ in the magazine Real Business and is a regular contributor to the Daily Telegraph. In 2004 he was awarded the CBE in the Birthday Honours List for Services to the Retail Sector.

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