JS Group

JS Group is a forward looking business that can trace its roots back to 1751 when the bookseller John Smith and Son was founded in Glasgow.

JS Group can trace its roots back to 1751 when the bookseller John Smith and Son was founded in Glasgow.The aim of the business now is very much as it was then, how can we support universities and students to deliver better outcomes.

For much of our history we did this by providing on campus bookshops. Today, we work with universities to develop engagement solutions based around bursaries and resource provision that drive engagement and deliver better student outcomes.

Aspire Engage and Aspire Connect have been used by universities since 2006 and we are the leading provider of cashless bursary solutions and of major learning resource provisions in the UK. Since Aspire was launched, well over 500,000 students have benefited from Aspire schemes.

Doing business with us

Each business and everyone in the JS Group is dedicated to delivering better outcomes for our customers and for our business partners. Organisations and businesses working with us will find us:

Open and honest

We succeed because we have great partnerships with our customers and our suppliers. These partnerships can only flourish if we are open and honest in all our dealings and if we share our market and management information, our plans and our performance with our partners.

Innovative and energetic

We are always challenging our business model, always looking for better ways to deliver value for our customers and partners..

Winning and results driven

Our approach is to ensure we can deliver better outcomes for our customers and partners. We know from our experience that this focus on winning together will also drive better results for the JS Group.

The JS Group Management Team

Manager's Name

Peter Gray

Chairman and CEO


Under Peter's leadership John Smith's has become one of the strongest growing companies in the Education sector. By continuing to invest in its Aspire platform and develop up-to-date business models with integrity and value he ensures engagement solutions are delivering better student outcomes.

Manager's Name

Peter Lake

Group Business Development Director


Peter joined JS Group in 2011 having previously worked in a number of senior roles at Thomson Reuters. Peter was CEO of Sweet & Maxwell from 2003 to 2011 and was also responsible for Thomson Reuters legal businesses in Europe and Asia.

Manager's Name

David Marshall

Group Commercial Director


David has been at the forefront of the JS Group evolution with his leadership playing a major role in developing the e-commerce channels, building and improving supplier relationships, extending the range of products offered and being the champion of The Group’s eBook strategy.

Manager's Name

Professor Michael Thorne CBE

Strategic Advisor to the Board

Professor Michael Thorne has worked at UCL and Cardiff University, and was Pro Vice Chancellor at Sunderland, Vice Principal at Napier in Edinburgh, Vice Chancellor at the University of East London and prior to his recent retirement, Vice Chancellor at Anglia Ruskin University. He has chaired the government’s Advisory Committee on Libraries, the Parliamentary Skills Commission’s enquiry into Information, Advice and Guidance and was a member of the Board of the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education. He has most recently been appointed as the new independent Chair of the Mid and South Essex NHS Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP).