JML (John Mills Limited)
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JML (John Mills Limited) is a UK based consumer products company, specialising in retail promotions and TV home shopping. Founded in 1986 by John Mills, it has two divisions: a retail division which sells products in stores via on-screen promotions and its direct division which sells them direct to consumer via TV home shopping channels, its website and through its catalogue. In 2010 it was named as one of Europe's Top 500 Growth Companies.
John Mills was born in Hampstead Garden Suburb, the son of British Army Colonel Kenneth Mills, who according to The Independent was a senior spy. At the end of World War II, Kenneth Mills was running MI5's operations from Gibraltar. Later, he was transferred to Jamaica and—according to a family legend—personally foiled an attempted revolution in Cuba. Mill's brother is lawyer David Mills who is married to the former Labour minister Tessa Jowell.
Educated privately at Glenalmond College in Scotland, he then read Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Merton College, Oxford. Searching for extra income as a student, he started selling household cleaning goods door-to-door, and in 1958 hired a plane to fly fellow students to Canada for summer jobs by selling off the seats. After two years of National Service he joined Unilever's graduate scheme, but quit after six months to start his own business. Charged by Trading Standards for selling brass trinkets as gold-plated jewellery, he pleaded guilty and was fined £750. Mills then founded Fairlane UK Ltd., which initially sold imported products at trade fairs and exhibitions, and latterly manufactured them. As the pound rose during Margaret Thatcher's government, Fairlane UK went bust in 1984.
Outside of JML, Mills has published a series of books on economics, a subject on which he regularly blogs. He was married to barrister Dame Barbara Mills DBE QC until her death in May 2011, with whom he had a son and three daughters. Mills was a Labour member of Camden London Borough Council from 1971 until 2006, and is presently (2014) the biggest donor to the Labour Party UK. His has a private pilots license, and is on the board of various eurosceptic lobby groups, and charity boards including SANE.
Mills founded JML in the basement of his house in Camden in 1986. Reverting to a model of selling at trade shows, the company expanded into consumer selling after a trial involving end of aisle video demonstrations in third-party owned retail shops.
Today, JML has its headquarters based in Kentish Town, North London. Home to one third of the company’s 300 strong workforce, it contains the retail sales office, media editing suites and broadcast operations. The fulfilment centre is based in the Port of Tyne, comprising both a call centre, warehouse and distribution facility.
JML’s core business is known for retail screen promotions. These can be found in UK and Irish retailers including Asda, Boots, Focus, Robert Dyas, Debenhams and Tesco. When consumers visit a store they see demonstrations of the product on in-store screens. Products are sold directly underneath these. The company has a team of over 120 support staff who visit every retail promotion regularly and change over stock and films. The brand also sells ranged lines.
This is supported by wide-scale TV advertising throughout the year. The adverts are usually 30 seconds in length and aired on all terrestrial and major digital TV channels and are usually filmed in a direct response style.
The brand also has a direct-to-consumer business. It sells directly to the consumer through its four shopping channels (on the Sky platform), website and catalogue. The four channels are JML Direct TV (operates on Sky 641), JML Cookshop (642), JML Home & DIY (653) and JML Choice (667). These all feature UK infomercials. They are largely produced in-house as well as featuring product demonstration films from across the globe. JML also broadcasts through third parties. The brand publishes a quarterly catalogue.
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JML products are sold in over more than 80 countries worldwide. JML GmbH launched in Darmstadt, Hesse state of Germany in 2008. It has direct operations companies in Singapore, Benelux and Central Europe.
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