James Timpson

Chief Executive, Timpson, 
The Prince's Ambassador for Responsible Business North West
A man smiles broadly at the camera

James Timpson is Chief Executive of Timpson, a family retail business based in Manchester. The business trades from 1,400 shops across the country, made up of 920 Timpson outlets plus a mix of Max Spielman and Snappy Snaps. Turnover is in excess of £200m and the business employs more than 3,500 colleagues. Timpson has been in business since 1865, and follows an "upside down" management approach - regarding the business' customer facing colleagues as the most important. 

At Timpson, James has successfully created a process for recruiting ex-offenders into the company. Working closely with the prison service at over 70 prisons across the UK, Timpson identifies potential candidates who have the right kind of personality to make it on release working within the business. Now, 10% of Timpson colleagues were recruited directly from prison.

James went on to Chair the Employers Forum for Reducing Reoffending, a national group originally set up by Business in the Community. This actively encourages other employers to be more willing to recruit ex-offenders, and who are on hand to help guide businesses to maximise the success of any placements.

He has supported Seeing is Believing visits in Liverpool by showcasing the workshop his company runs in Walton Prison, which prepares offenders for the world of work.

James also frequently arranges prison visits with other employers who have expressed an interest in this area of recruitment, so that they can witness first-hand the potential superstar colleagues they are missing out on.

James also helped set up and then chaired the North West Work Inclusion Group which brought businesses together across the North West to help stop reoffending. He invited Carillion to join the group and was instrumental in building the relationship between Carillion and BITC in the North West. Carillion now offer work placements for ex-offenders and people from a homeless background through BITC’s Ready for Work programme. James’ own company has provided many placements for BITC’s Ready for Work clients with a criminal record.

In 2011 James was awarded an OBE for Services to Training and Employment for Disadvantaged People.