The Bristol Distinguished Address Series: James Timpson OBE, Chief Executive, Timpson

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Start Date: 04 Mar 2015

Start Time: 6:00 PM

End Time: 9:00 PM

Duration: 3 hours

Venue: UWE Exhibition and Conference Centre, Frenchay Campus, Bristol

Con to Cobbler

The Timpson business thrives when it employs amazing personalities who give great service. Sometimes we find these personalities from unusual places!


•18:00 - Registration and refreshments
•18:30 - Lecture
•19:30 - Networking and supper


James Timpson is Chief Executive of Timpson, a family retail business based in Manchester.

Through 920 shops across the UK and Ireland Timpson is the largest shoe repairer, key cutter, engraver and watch repairer. Timpson's store portfolio was further increased by the purchase of 180 Max Spielmann photo processing stores in 2008 and an additional 121 Snappy Snap photo processing stores in 2013, boosting the Company's turnover to £200M. Recent acquisitions have seen the total store numbers exceed 1350.

Over 3500 colleagues run the shops within an "upside down management" structure which Timpson has developed to ensure those serving customers are the most important colleagues in the business; everyone else is there to help them give amazing service. Coupled with this is a consistency on recruiting only those with amazing personalities.

James's maverick approach to recruitment has also enabled them to successfully forge relationships with prisons across the UK, working closely together to identify 'personalities' within the system. Training is provided to those selected with the view that upon release they may secure employment with the Company. Colleagues who have joined the Company via this avenue are part of the 'Timpson Foundation', which is an internal initiative offering help and support to the individuals concerned.

Having successfully set up the Foundation, James has gone on to help and encourage other companies to recruit from prisons and currently Chairs the Employers Forum For Reducing Reoffending. These are a group of likeminded employers who are prepared to offer a second chance to an ex-offender, who wants to grasp the opportunity of employment and changing their lives for the better.

A major highlight of his career to date is being awarded the OBE, which he received in January 2011 for recognition to his 'Services to Training and Employment for Disadvantaged People'. It's not only a tremendous accolade for him personally, but also all the Timpson Team who work so hard to support those colleagues joining us through the Foundation, and the other community projects that falls under its umbrella.

Another milestone in recent years has been his appointment as the David Goldman Visiting Professor of Innovation for 2012/13, at the Newcastle University Business School. The appointment, for a 12 month period only, was an opportunity to help, inspire and motivate budding entrepreneurs, business leaders and students alike, along with providing a business school lecture!


  • Refreshments provided
  • Free event

Enquiries contact

Questions about this event should be addressed to Corporate Relations Service at or by telephone on 0117 3285801.

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