‘Don’t ignore common sense, it’s one of the secrets to business success’, Sir John Timpson tells North East entrepreneurs

Posted on the 11 May 2018

‘Don’t ignore common sense, it’s one of the secrets to business success’, Sir John Timpson tells North East entrepreneurs

Sir John Timpson has told North East entrepreneurs the secret behind business success, to not ignore common sense and trust in the people you employ.

Speaking in Newcastle to an audience of 300 business owners at the Entrepreneurs’ Forum conference, 'Together We Can Take On The World, Sir John said, “The North East has some great private businesses, which are in the perfect position to create their own best practice and not follow others. 

“Common sense is so often ignored in business and it is actually one of the secrets to success.  Stripping out complicated processes and giving people the autonomy to make decisions to make a business succeed from the front line has served us well.

"We trust in the people who serve the customers to do it in the way they want.  That allows us to apply our successful upside down management structure, where those who serve customers are at the top and the rest of us serve those who work with our customers.”

He also told the audience that businesses should never stay the same and those that fail do not anticipate or react quick enough to change.

Sir John, the man behind Timpson, the UK shoe repair chain, which operates 2,000 stores and employs more than 4,000 staff, highlighted that the company has always continued to evolve to stay relevant, while also being able to offer services, such as key cutting, which can’t be provided by online competitors.

He also revealed this strategy continues with the company exploring a new diversification, by opening barber shop pods in supermarket car parks.  This follows on from Timpson refocusing the locations of its stores away from the High Street, with 60 percent of its outlets based out of town, usually alongside or inside supermarkets.

Sir John was joined as a guest speaker at the conference along with Angus Thirlwell, CEO of Hotel Chocolat - one of the most innovative and highly respected super-premium chocolatiers in the world. 

Also providing some inspirational insight from the world of sport were Team GB's Mica McNeill, who produced the best ever performance by a British women’s Olympic bobsleigh team at this year’s Winter Olympics, and World Record holding athlete and adventurer Mark Beaumont.

Completing the line-up of entrepreneurial speakers was Julian Leighton, co-founder of fast-growing digital agency Orange Bus. The North East firm was acquired by Capita in 2016 and now employs 120 staff, operating across Newcastle, London, Sheffield and Edinburgh.

The conference, which took place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel and was sponsored by Fairstone, was hosted by BBC Radio Newcastle presenter Alfie Joey.  It is the highlight of the Forum's event calendar bringing together some of the UK's leading entrepreneurs for a day of peer-to-peer learning.

Gillian Marshall, Chief Executive of the Entrepreneurs' Forum, said: "Sir John Timpson, along with our other speakers, really gave our members food for thought and revealed tips and advice that can be invaluable to their businesses.

“Our conference always energises the North East entrepreneurial community and stimulates new ideas and opportunities.  Our 300-strong audience got to hear ideas and experiences from entrepreneurs who have taken impressive business journeys, which our members can take inspiration from and apply to their own enterprises.”