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Posted by Emma Douthwaite

Knowledge transfer partnerships, a match made in heaven

Without Laurel there would be no Hardy, without Brad, no Angelina, without Sonny, no Cher.

Greatness can be achieved best when a pair complements each other’s skills and strengths, and that’s exactly what Middlesex University and Marston Book Services Ltd have achieved with their knowledge transfer partnership.  

Marston Book Services Ltd is one of the publishing industry’s leading distributors, printing everything from books to journals and working across the trade, academic, STM, arts, religion, educational and professional sectors.

On top of all this activity, Marston recently acquired an international publishing business. Marston aimed to integrate, unify and streamline the two businesses into one seamless operation; given the diversity and breadth of the companies, this was no mean feat.

This is where the Centre for Business Systems Applications at Middlesex University enters the picture. Together with a KTP associate, Marston and Middlesex University have been able to overcome one of the key challenges of the printing company’s growth, redesigning the IT systems. Professor Owen Hanson explains,

Middlesex already has an ongoing interest in SMEs and particularly in how they use IT to achieve a competitive advantage, so working with Marston has been extremely useful.

Thanks to the improved IT system and a new ‘print on demand’ facility, Marston Book Services has seen numerous tangible improvements, annual sales turnover has grown by £300,000, exports have increased by £800,000 and Marston now counts over sixty clients on its books.

However, the success of the KTP goes far beyond financial gain. The knowledge shared has encouraged Marston to employ two additional members of staff dedicated to improving the systems already in place. The partnership has allowed Marston Books to greatly improve its efficiency, and so provide a strong foundation for growth.

The expertise shared is perhaps the lasting legacy of the knowledge transfer partnership. Robert O’Shea, Director of Marston Book Services and Programme Facilitator, sums up the key advantage for his company,

We were able to have on tap the type of consultancy expertise and knowledge that our competitors would have killed for. It’s a match made in heaven.

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