Shaper: John Sims-Hilditch

John Sims-Hilditch

Prior to co-founding Neptune with Giles Redman, John Sims-Hilditch was a Captain in the British Army. The discipline and precision he learned as an army officer, together with his natural entrepreneurial spirit, have helped make Neptune one of the fastest growing retailers in Britain.

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“Giles left Reading University having sold only a few Mexican hammocks and I said I didn’t think it was an ideal product for the UK. Then we discussed the design benefits of them and decided to make one styled for the UK with nautical canvas and rope.”

“I used my military experience to create the A-frame so you wouldn’t need any trees. We sold five and a half thousand hammocks in our first year.”

“We spent time working out the geometry of how we could make a deck chair rock and fold. We came up with what we think was the first rocking deckchair which is now fairly ubiquitous. We sold those to Habitat and lots of well-known companies at the time.”

“Giles and I are very different characters and I think a lot of the team say that’s the greatest benefit. We think about things differently and over the years our differences bring benefits to the business.”

“Giles really has the most extraordinary laugh – you could probably hear it a mile away.”

“I realised customers were interested in the whole concept when they started asking about the colour of paint and styling, so Emma came into the business to give us advice about the whole interior style.”

“I always say that the money is a consequence. A business has to make a profit in order to survive but, after that, money is a consequence of good work.”

“The biggest pride is walking into any of our stores or into the HQ in Wiltshire and seeing everybody, talking to them, picking up on what they’re doing both personally and at work. It’s such a privilege.”

“If we are to create a business that will last 100 years, we have to imbue our values, thoughts and beliefs into its bloodstream.”