James Timpson

Company: Timpson Ltd

Phone: 0161 946 6200

Job title: CEO



Through 625 shops across the UK and Ireland Timpson is the largest shoe repairer, key cutter, engraver and watch repairer. Over 3000 colleagues run the shops within an “upside down management” structure which Timpson has developed to ensure those serving customers are the most important in the business; everyone else is there to help.

Max Speilmann consists of 200 photo processing stores and is a recent addition to the Timpson family.

Before and after Durham University James worked in all areas of the business from branch manager to area manager until joining the Timpson House team.

James and his father John have created a unique business culture that is based on recruiting personalities and giving them complete authority to run their shops however they want. Timpson is well known as being a great place to work and has recently purchased a seaside hotel to increase the number of holiday homes for colleagues.

James is married to Roisin and with their three children live near Chester.

“All family businesses are dysfunctional by nature”

How long have you been working with family business?
Since 1987

Who or what has inspired you?
The colleagues I work with

What generation are you?
6th generation

What do you think makes a family business special or different from a non-family business?
Long term ambitions to manage the family wealth through running a business

What prepared you for entering the family business?
I’ve grown up around shop talk with my father and therefore felt very ready for my first job within the business … working in our Northwich branch!

What has been, or is, your biggest challenge for either you or the business?
To survive when all our competitors have gone bust

Why do you feel a community to support family businesses is so important?
Because family businesses are dysfunctional by nature

What advice would you pass on to future generations – either in your business or another family business?
Colleagues like working in a family business, and commercially it is an advantage to be a family business, but you need to be twice as good as non family members to be able to lead and inspire the team.

What would you like to see change/improve with the service professional advisers (lawyers, banks, accountants, etc) provide to family businesses?
To recognise that their fees are coming out of our own money and a direct approach and straight talking is always preferred.

What do you hope your legacy/or the family business legacy will be?
It’s still going