John Timpson was born in 1943 and was educated at Oundle and Nottingham University. After a six month Graduate Training Scheme with C & J Clark at Street, he joined the family footwear business William Timpson Limited, becoming the Director responsible for buying in 1970. Following the acquisition of the Company by the UDS Group in 1973, he became Managing Director of leather and fur retailers, Swears & Wells Limited and in 1975 was appointed Managing Director of William Timpson his original family business.
In 1987 he sold the shoe shops to rival retailer George Oliver and subsequently concentrated on building up the shoe repairing and key cutting business, which he has diversified into engraving, watch repairs, dry cleaning and photo processing.
In September 1995 John acquired the 120 shop Automagic chain and in April 2003 bought Minit UK which added another 200 shoe repair shops.
Timpson now has over 1,800 branches nationwide with a turnover of £260m and profits of over £20m. It is a private business wholly owned by John Timpson and his family.
He was a Trustee at Uppingham School and until its merger with the NSPCC was a trustee of ChildLine. He has also been Chair of the Governors at Brookway High School, Wythenshawe, Delamere Primary School, Cheshire and Terra Nova School in Cheshire. In 2000 he wrote a book ‘Dear James,’ which passes on to his son the lessons learned in 30 years as a Chief Executive. A management maverick, he describes his business philosophy in ‘How to Ride a Giraffe’, ‘Upside Down Management’ and ‘Ask John’. ‘High Street Heroes’ was published in 2015 and his latest book ‘Under Orders’ is the diary of a racehorse owners’ husband. For 9 years John has had a weekly column in the Daily Telegraph.
In 2004 he was awarded the CBE in the Birthday Honours List for Services to the Retail Sector and in 2017 was knighted for his services to business and fostering. John’s main leisure interests outside the business are connected with sport, he regularly plays Tennis, Golf and Real Tennis.