The upside-down leader: how James Timpson drives success

Words Stuart Rock

Happiness is the most important barometer at high-street stalwart Timpson, explains the CEO of the family business, James Timpson

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In his teens, James Timpson was a self-confessed “weird kid” who would read the business pages of the national newspapers. He started working in the family business at 15 and loved nothing more than the ringing of the tills in the shops.

He wasn’t the best shoe repairer or key-cutter but he soon discovered that he made more money than anybody else – because he was the boss's son. 

“I could do what I wanted and no one told me off. I could do deals, charge lower prices, give things away for free, change displays, open for longer or shorter hours,” he says.

Which led him to ask: if he could make more money by not following all the rules and processes, why couldn’t others?

In his own words: James Timpson on upside-down leadership


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