Timpson (retailer)

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Timpson Ltd
Private Ltd
IndustryService industry
FounderWilliam Timpson
Number of locations
2100 (owned stores) with
110 Snappy Snaps franchises[1]
Area served
United Kingdom, Ireland
Key people
John Timpson
James Timpson
ServicesShoe Repairs
Watch Repair
Mobile Phone Repairs
dry cleaning
photo processing
OwnerJohn Timpson & family
Number of employees
SubsidiariesMax Spielmann
Timpson Key & Locker Solutions
Johnsons Cleaners UK
Snappy Snaps!
Timpson Property Investments
Photographic Retail 2008 Limited
Timpson Chef Academy Community Interest Company
Timpson Ireland Limited
Timpson Sol Limited

Timpson is a British multinational retailer specialising in shoe repairs, key cutting and engraving, as well as dry cleaning & photo processing. The company also offers mobile phone repairs, jewellery and watch repair, custom-made house signs. It is based in Wythenshawe, Manchester,[2] and currently has over 1325 outlets in the United Kingdom and Ireland. In January 2014, Timpson purchased the photographic services franchise, Snappy Snaps, increasing its store count by 118.[2][3] In January 2017, Timpson purchased the dry-cleaning business Johnsons Cleaners UK for £8.25m.[4]


Timpson Shoes in Radcliffe in 1966

Timpson was founded in 1865 by shoemaker William Timpson and his brother-in-law Walter Joyce, selling shoes at 298 Oldham Road, Manchester.[5][6] It expanded into shoe manufacturing in 1884 at factories in Kettering, and repairs in 1903. The company was listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1929. In the 1950s, turnover was around £10,000,000 and profits £900,000.[7] The company moved its headquarters to Wythenshawe in 1964.[8]

In the early-1960s, family member and graduate of the University of Nottingham John Timpson returned from his post-graduate management training scheme with C. & J. Clark in Street, Somerset to join the family-owned business, becoming director responsible for buying in 1970.[6] In 1973, after John's father Anthony was ousted as chairman by his uncle Geoffrey,[7] the company was acquired for £28,600,000 by United Drapery Stores.[5][7] John stayed with the firm, became managing director of leather and fur retailers Swears & Wells, then in 1975; appointed managing director of the former family business, William Timpson Ltd.[6]

In 1983, John led a £42,000,000 management buyout of William Timpson from then-owners Hanson Trust plc.[5] To raise funds, £30,000,000 came from selling the freeholds of the firm's stores and leasing them back, the rest via debt financing from venture capitalists.[9] After four years of poor trading, to reduce debt on the balance sheet, the company sold the loss-making shoe retail business for £15,000,000 to rival George Oliver,[7] and focused on building the shoe repairing and key cutting business.[5][6] By 1987, Timpson had ceased trading as a shoe retailer.

After diversifying into engraving, watch repairs, dry cleaning and photo processing, John Timpson bought the other shareholders out in 1993.[9] The company then went on the acquisition trail:[6]

  • September 1995: 120 shops of the Automagic chain
  • April 2003: 200 shops of Minit UK
  • 2004: The House Nameplate Company in Wrexham
  • June 2008: 40 Persil Service concessions located in Sainsbury's stores[5]
  • December 2008: 187 digital photo shops branded Klick and Max Spielmann[5]
  • February 2014: 139 digital photo shops from Tesco, plus its instant kiosk business and online business [10]
  • January 2017: 200 Johnson Cleaners stores, including the Jeeves of Belgravia and Jeeves International, purchased from Johnson Service Group.[11]

John Timpson and his wife were foster carers for 29 years, fostering over ninety children. The couple have five children of their own. In 2000, John wrote the book Dear James, in which he passes on to his son the lessons learned in thirty years as a chief executive. His second book How to ride a Giraffe describes his business philosophy. Timpson was appointed a CBE in 2008 for services to the retail industry.[6]

Timpsons on the Market Place in Wetherby, West Yorkshire (2013)


John Timpson's philosophy is that "If you treat people well, it is blindingly obvious that they will do a good job." The company still has a final salary pension scheme in place,( not available to new employees) owns holiday homes for workers, staff get their birthdays off, and bonuses for exceeding targets.[5] In 2007, to celebrate growing from £500,000 profit to £12m in 20 years of trading, Timpson's launched the "Dream Come True" programme for staff, which over 12 months paid for eye operations, reunited families and sent staff on dream trips to Australia.[7] The business has won countless awards, and been in the top 10 of the Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For every time it has entered.[7] The company has a policy of employing ex-prisoners and runs pre-release training in several prisons.[12]


  1. ^ "About Us - Mobile phone repairs, locksmiths, key cutting and more. by Timpson". www.timpson.co.uk. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Timpson eyes future growth after record profit - Insider Media Ltd". www.insidermedia.com. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  3. ^ "Timpson swoops for Snappy Snaps". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  4. ^ "Timpson buys high street dry cleaners". The Business Desk. Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g David Teather (3 April 2009). "John Timpson, the cobbler who is showing his rivals a clean pair of heels". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-06-04.
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Meet The Timpsons". www.timpson.co.uk. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Joanna Higgins (9 September 2007). "John Timpson". Director magazine. Archived from the original on 15 December 2010. Retrieved 2012-06-04.
  8. ^ "History of Timpsons". Timpsons. Archived from the original on 9 May 2010. Retrieved 2012-06-04.
  9. ^ a b Jody Clarke (17 April 2009). "John Timpson: cobbling together a fortune". MoneyWeek.
  10. ^ http://www.groceryinsight.com/blog/2014/02/news-tesco-photo-shops-to-be-operated-by-max-spielmann/#comment-23156
  11. ^ http://www.jsg.com/cms/documents/JSG%20-%20Disposal%20of%20drycleaning%20activities%20(5%20January%202017).pdf
  12. ^ "Timpson Blog". Archived from the original on 22 February 2015. Retrieved 28 December 2014.

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