Skip to content

An Evening with James Timpson

CEO, Times columnist and philanthropist James Timpson this week teamed up with his local Community Foundation to host an invitation-only dinner for local business leaders from Cheshire and Warrington. The event took place at The Nest, a state-of-the-art new training academy for Timpson colleagues in Wythenshawe, and was kindly sponsored by long-term partners of Cheshire Community Foundation, Brewin Dolphin.

Cheshire Community Foundation (CCF) raises funds to support hundreds of amazing small charities and voluntary groups across the whole of Cheshire and Warrington. They connect people and companies who would like to make a difference with those most in need of help. James Timpson is a Cheshire resident who is a friend and supporter of CCF. Guests heard James’s story of how the business has evolved, how Upside-Down Management has progressed the business and how James’ passion for supporting prison leavers and helping others, has been a driving force in his career.

‘Upside-Down Management’ was explained by James as: “The colleagues who serve customers and put money in the till are the kings and queens of our business. They can do whatever they think is right to give amazing service. Everyone else’s job is to help them do that, not tell them what to do.”

Talking about Timpson’s survival of the pandemic, James said “I think we survived because of two things: a strong culture, and cash in the bank. Things became exceptionally challenging, but we knew we had to stick to our values. We looked after our colleagues and we looked after those who help us run our business. We paid our colleagues 100% and we paid our landlords and suppliers in full. We’ve learned lots of lessons and we’re more efficient.

The Timpson recruitment process is as maverick as it’s leader. “A CV is a complete waste of time for us. We don’t even read it. All we want is your name and your phone number. We want something you don’t get from a CV, which is a personality. People with amazing personalities come from all different walks of life.”

Guests had the opportunity to ask questions and were impressed to hear that 1 in 10 colleagues are recruited from prison, but only 6 have ever returned to prison in the history of the business. Asked about teaming up with other large companies to recruit prisoners, he said “I want to get the chief exec in a prison, in a cell, listening. Then they get it. It has to be driven by them when it aligns to their values, that’s when it works.”

As CEO of a family business with ethics at its heart, James Timpson embodies the kind of partnership Cheshire Community Foundation is built on. Zoe Sheppard, CEO of CCF said: “It’s business leaders like James who are really showing the rest of us how it’s done. There is absolutely a place for philanthropy and kindness within our thriving business community in Cheshire and Warrington. We are so grateful to James for sharing his story and supporting us in this way. The room was filled with some of the North West’s most exciting business leaders, and we all left inspired to do more. We can’t wait to see the partnerships that develop following what truly was an inspirational evening, which we hope will benefit the most vulnerable in our local communities.”