William Timpson is the man behind Timpson limited. He was a shoemaker and decided to pursue selling shoes at 298 Oldham Street in Manchester. He was only 16 years of age at that time. He founded the company, William Timpson Limited,155 years ago in 1865 along with Walter Joyce, who was his brother-in-law. William Timpson started off as a shoe retailer, learning the craft of shoemaking in Northamptonshire. It is a family-owned and run business.
William realized that his shoes sold pretty quickly. He built his business from scratch. He started opening more shops to facilitate the demand. In 1884, Timpsons expanded by going into shoe manufacturing and by 1903, it had also started doing shoe repairs by setting up a factory in Hulme. By 1929, the company was listed on the London Stock Exchange. Timpsons had opened 260 shops by 1960. These were mainly located in Northern England and Scotland. In the early 1960s, Timpsons shoe repair business grew quickly. These shoe repair factories were on the shop premises and stand-alone shops.
During this time, John Timpson joined the family business after completing management training from the University of Nottingham. He was a post-graduate and became a managing director (leather and fur). In 1973, the control of the company was acquired by United Drapery Stores. This was the doing of Johns’ uncle, Geoffery, who ousted Anthony Timpson, who was the chairman at that time. By 1975, John became the managing director of the business.
In 1983, John Timpson purchased William Timpson limited from the Hanson Trust. William Timpson was his great grandfather. The control was now back in the family, under John, the Board of Directors and managers. The company started their key cutting business in 1969. In 1987, the company stopped doing business as a shoe retailer as John sold the shoe shops to his rival, George Oliver.
By 1990, key cutting had become a major part of the business. Timpsons had now diversified and became a multi-service business. It was now doing watch repairs, dry cleaning, photo processing and engravings. In late 1995, 120 shops of Automagic had been acquired. Another 200 shop shops were added to this when John bought Minit UK. In 2008, over 40 Sainsbury concessions were acquired and 187 Klick and Max Spielmann shops were bought along with 200 Max photo shops. In 2013, Timpsons increased its photo processing business by acquiring the Snappy Snaps chain. In 2014, they acquired the Tesco photo business which included the website and 150 retail stores. In 2017, 197 shops of JohnsonsCleaners were acquired.
What started off as a shoe retailer is now a multinational retailer. From 150 shops in 1987, to 1,325 owned stores with 110 franchises located all throughout UK and Ireland. Timpsons has opened more than 300 branches inside and outside main supermarkets over the last 10 years. It now has over 2,000 branches nationwide and just opened its 2000th shop in 2018. This is all a result of the hard work put in to expand and acquire new businesses. It has survived generations in the family and has greatly grown since.