The Unipart Outstanding Employment Award: Timpson Group

Winner of Business in the Community’s Unipart Outstanding Employment Award 2019.

Timpson: In-prison skills academies succeeding in cutting reoffending rates

  • £100,000 a year saved in recruitment agency fees
  • 75 per cent retention rate for ex-offenders

Timpson believes in giving people a second chance. The high-street key-cutting, dry cleaners, and shoe and watch repair business thinks it is madness to throw a large section of society on the employment scrapheap just because of their background. The Timpson Foundation recruits and trains marginalised groups, giving them the full range of skills needed for long-term employment within its industry. It was a programme originally designed to help ex-offenders but is now being expanded to help other groups. 

Timpson offers in-prison training academies, work experience for ex-offenders and for inmates on release on temporary licence and an apprenticeship scheme. The aim: to give jobs to marginalised groups, and to help cut the rate of re-offending – something that costs UK taxpayers about £11 billion a year1) – by giving ex-offenders confidence, practical and emotional support, technical skills and a means of earning a decent living.

“We’ve enabled thousands of ex-offenders to have a second chance in life and go on to have rewarding careers. Often, other employers don’t realise they can be missing out on some very talented, hardworking individuals. Their loss is our gain.”

James Timpson, CEO, Timpson 

The business lends staff their rent deposit and gives them money for clothes, helping to get a basic standard of living for their first weeks in work. The retention rate for staff who have joined the business from prison or who have a criminal conviction is about 75 per cent. It is a corporate strategy that has garnered much positive feedback from customers and a source of pride for staff. 

The company has saved about £100,000 a year in recruitment agency fees. It costs about £15,000 to train a new apprentice – and the higher retention rates of those that have passed through the foundation saves the business £300,000 a year in training new staff.

Unless otherwise stated information in this impact story has been supplied by Timpson.

What the judges said…

“Timpsons’ approach to employing ex-offenders and other excluded groups has the ability to inspire and change attitudes and their story needs to be heard more widely. There are a lot of people who may have made a mistake in life and so the impact Timpsons can have on society is huge.”

John Neill CBE, Group Chief Executive and Chairman, Unipart 


  1. National Audit Office (2010) Managing offenders on short custodial sentences. Available at

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