James Timpson OBE
Since becoming chief executive of the UK’s leading family retail group in 2002, he has pioneered an ‘upside-down approach’ to management. Under his guidance, the business has expanded to 1,400 stores across the country, with a turnover of more than £200 million.
For James, business success is built on the three pillars of innovation, culture and recruitment. Innovation has arrived in the form of the ‘Timpson Pod’, a pre-fabricated standalone unit in supermarket sites that acts as a concession stall. The company now has more than 200 pods since they launched in March 2010.
Timpson’s distinctive upside-down management is key to empowering employees and creating a positive working culture. In this approach, customer-facing employees are treated as the most important members of the company and it is the job of the head office staff to impress them.
James’s unconventional approach stems from his belief that people deserve a second chance; this combines with his awareness of the role businesses ought to play in the wider community. In practising what James preaches, Timpson has developed a programme that selects, trains and mentors candidates from prison towards a role at the company. Under James, Timpson has recruited 10% of its employees from prison.
He is the HRH Prince of Wales’ Ambassador for Responsible Business in the North West, and in 2011 he was made an OBE for services to training and employment for disadvantaged people.