From left, Prof Waring, Peter Scullion, Dr Johnston and Dr Nguyen

Member Article

Company calls on NBS for competitive edge

Researchers at Northumbria University’s Newcastle Business School (NBS) have created a research tool to help a leading mobility vehicle supplier gain greater insight into the needs of their customers.

Dr Lorraine Johnston, a lecturer in Strategic Management and International Business, led a team of researchers to develop a highly specific questionnaire that would provide Lewis Reed Ltd, a Wirral-based company which specialises in converting vehicles for wheelchair accessibility, with key information about customer requirements.

The market research project was commissioned by Peter Scullion, Managing Director of Lewis Reed Ltd, who realised the practical benefits researchers at Newcastle Business School (NBS) could bring to his business while studying for his Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) qualification at the School.

Dr Johnston, with colleagues Dr Thuyuyen Nguyen and Professor Teresa Waring, in collaboration with Angela McGrane from the Higher Education Academy, worked closely with Lewis Reed to gain insight into its strengths and how the company compared to competitors in the market, before developing the bespoke questionnaire.

The results of the customer research provided Lewis Reed with significant information that has now been incorporated into the company’s plans for future development.

“This has been a great experience and opportunity to share expertise that has benefited an already established company,” Dr Johnston said. “The commissioned research set out to enhance Lewis Reed’s knowledge of changing customer needs and to inform the future strategic direction of the business. Throughout the project they have demonstrated a willingness to listen to their customers through translating these needs into innovative vehicle design solutions.

“Lewis Reed’s highly creative approach is commendable and is making a real difference to mobility users’ needs and lifestyles.”

Peter Scullion, Managing Director of the Lewis Reed Group, said: “The survey set out to give us a competitive advantage in a challenging retail market. The findings have led us to identify what our customers really do value and have begun to inform our future strategic framework with a focus on product development. In addition, the research will support Lewis Reed in making more informed business decisions in the medium term.

“Researchers at Newcastle Business School looked closely at how we could communicate more effectively with our customer base to ensure we develop a deeper understanding of them. Identifying what customers really value in a difficult retail climate is a winning formula for success.”

Dr Johnston and her colleagues are keen for more businesses in and outside the region to tap into the wealth of knowledge and expertise available to them at Newcastle Business School.

She said: “Some small to medium business leaders can think of universities as ‘ivory towers’ that are somehow off-limits from the business world, but increasingly they are beginning to see and value the high-quality skills and relevant expertise that we offer.”

Professor Waring added: “Newcastle Business School is demonstrating that it plays a vital role in the North East geographical area and beyond. A key part of our strategy is to lead business and be business-led by exchanging knowledge and creating impact. It’s about building collaborative relationships that will be mutually beneficial.”

“We have developed an instrument that can be used again and again. This has been a very positive experience.”

To find out more about the research project and the benefits that Newcastle Business School can offer to local businesses, send an email to Teresa.Waring@northumbria.ac.uk or call 0191 227 3767.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Shirley Morgan .

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