After identifying that their unique skill base could be transferred into other markets, they connected with the University of Essex to develop a Management Knowledge Transfer Partnership (mKPT).
Through the mKTP, The Finishing Line teamed up with leading academics from Essex Business School to primarily grow the business’ presence within the eCommerce Fulfilment landscape whilst also encouraging growth in several areas such as innovation, people and automation.
The project consisted of three key pillars; uncover new clients from untapped markets; upskill employees; and investigate automation, which could compliment the business’s workforce with autonomous systems to increase workload capacity.
The mKPT Associate worked alongside academics Professor Niraj Kumar, Dr Shabneez Bhankaraully and Professor Matthew Allen to look at data and topics surrounding growth mindsets, job satisfaction and employability over the 26-month project period, to ensure the company was prepared for expansion.
This research helped the partnership develop a formal training programme for staff, allowing employees to have the confidence to carry forward the business’s mission. The academic team also delivered expertise in areas such as occupational psychology, change management and employment relations.
Dr Shabneez Bhankaraully, said: “The mKTP project with The Finishing Line (TFL) has been an enriching experience in “impact” research, demonstrating how abstract management theories and concepts can translate into practical outcomes and contribute to tangible benefits for both the partner firm, academics and other stakeholders."
“For the academic researchers, immersion into the corporate setting and the collection of rich data during the span of the project informed strategic recommendations to the firm and provides a basis for contributions to the management literature through academic publications.”
The mKTP between Essex and The Finishing Line has resulted in the latter making fundamental changes to its business model, enabling diversification into new markets and expansion of its existing service offerings; and acquiring new customers for eCommerce fulfilment, contract packing and warehousing.
The project has supported The Finishing Line’s transformation into an end-to-end Supply Chain partner for eCommerce and retail brands and has led to a huge shift in the company’s culture, strategic direction, and risk management planning.
They’ve seen an increase of over £175,000 in annual sales and £55,000 in profits relating to new business, with both expected to continue to rise in the coming years as The Finishing Line moves into a large, modern facility in October 2023.
The Finishing Line used to rely heavily on the magazine promotional finishing sector but has now adapted to work with customers such as Amazon and the UK Department of Health. Jobs within the company have been created to keep up with growth and demand, including roles in Product Development, Digital Marketing and Customer Service.
The KTP Associate, Joshua Arrowsmith, was a fundamental part of the project’s success, and not only has he since accepted a full-time role as Head of Commercial & Innovation he was also awarded mKTP Associate of the year at the University’s Celebration of Innovation awards 2022.
The mKTP between Essex and The Finishing Line has been so successful that it has been rated as “Outstanding” by Innovate UK’s national mKTP panel – the highest grade available and won Best mKTP at the national Innovate UK KTP Awards 2023.
“For 35 years The Finishing Line has been focusing on one particular core market - magazine finishing, but now we’ve evolved into supply chain experts. Once we recognised that our skills could be transferred into other markets and other sectors, the University of Essex proved to be the ideal partner to enable us to achieve that. I would have no hesitation to recommend a KTP to other businesses. It’s been absolutely fabulous for us and Josh winning the award at the same time as coordinating our move to new headquarters is a brilliant acknowledgment of what we have accomplished."
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