Engage with our academicsCase Study : Fishers

The Business Challenge 

Improving service capability through collaborative innovation: A KTP between Fishers Services Ltd and Strathclyde Business School 

Established in 1900, Fishers Services Ltd’s core business is the rental, washing, drying and ironing of textiles, ranging from general hotel linen requirements to specialist industrial and cleanroom garments to meet the regulatory hygiene requirement of the healthcare, semiconductor and food industries. It is the second largest independent laundry company in the UK and a market leader in Scotland. It operates factories in Scotland (five sites) and North England (Newcastle). Since 2017 the company has been part of Canadian K-Bro Linen Inc., listed on the Toronto stock exchange. 

Craig Sigerson, a Master’s graduate in Advanced Manufacturing Technology and Systems from the University of Strathclyde, joined Fishers. Over two years, and with academic supervision from Dr Aylin Ates and Dr Steve Paton, who are both Senior Lecturers at the University of Strathclyde Business School, Craig worked on customising digitalisation solutions, e.g. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to allow Fishers to keep track of its luxury textile range and use the data it generates to inform the design and purchasing of linens. As a result, Fishers developed and implemented an asset tracking capability, providing real time visibility of high volumes of reusable stock. This has transformed Fishers’ financial and operational performance. 

The Knowledge Transfer 

The academic team and the KTP Associate had the opportunity to apply and transfer their knowledge gained in high value manufacturing industries, as there were similar challenges and cross industry knowledge exchange opportunities. RFID technology has been around for a while, but its application within the laundry services industry and hospitality has only become available in the last five years. 

The KTP project has contributed to clarifying the Company’s digital strategy through organising strategy workshops facilitated by the academic team. The KTP Associate worked on developing the implementation process and optimising the new system on a daily basis. The KTP provided Fishers with a unique selling point (USP) that some customers (existing & new) are requesting through tenders, as they begin to see the benefits of digitalised stock control. Fishers and its clients believe that RFID will eventually become an industry standard. The theory is simple as the technology is readily available, but the implementation and the change process and filtering of the data analysis remains challenging. The KTP project supported the Company to implement a change process and to understand better the product's lifespan via the data gathered through the new system. 

This KTP project also had a positive effect on the University’s teaching in terms of live case study material development. The KTP has led to development of a Client Brief to be tackled by Strathclyde Business School MSc students. In 2018 and 2020, Fishers acted as a client for Dr Ates’ Consulting in Practice class, which has a major experiential learning element, involving a live and recent problem which is developed and presented to students. MSc students conducted research, developed solutions and presented their recommendations to the CEO and top management team at Fishers. The class was very well received by the students and Fishers benefitted from the student work. 

For example, MSc Project Management & Innovation student, Marina de Campos Lima Mendes, who worked on Fishers’ Client Brief said ‘Now I understand I made the right decision in choosing to pursue my Masters degree at Strathclyde Business School. My last module for the MSc Project Management and Innovation was a real life consulting experience and we had the opportunity to present our recommendations to a real client. All students were placed into groups and we received a client with real life business. We had only ten days to analyse the situation (real issues, real people) and suggest areas for improvement and recommendations. Throughout my studies, I had never done a task so real and practical at university and it was such a great experience. 

The Value Added 

The project delivered clear benefits to the Company. Current annual sales turnover directly attributed to KTP is £2.2M and the change in annual sales turnover is forecasted in 3 years’ time to be £9.4M. RFID has become a core USP for Fishers in their dealings with hotel groups. Since the start of the KTP, the company has won a major 5* hotel contract in Scotland and the North of England (about £1.8m). They have also grown a significant new business area in Edinburgh’s AirBnB market with a property management company. This is currently worth £400k per annum and is expected to grow to £1m as they grow with them across Scotland. Due to the clear value added to the company, they have already rolled the system out to their other laundries using the same set up established by the KTP. 

This KTP project has delivered positive impact on the University and the Academic team. The KTP provided empirical data for the Academic team’s ongoing research into digitalisation and innovation ecosystems. There is increasing pressure on the tourism and hospitality industry but they seem to be surviving, even thriving, and it’s the biggest employer in Scotland. The academic team, the KTP Associate and the MSc students have developed their knowledge of digitalisation in the hospitality industry. The KTP Associate was able to develop new skills such as digitalisation of operations, change management, big data analytics and related software systems. These new skills helped him accelerate his career and get employment in a flagship innovation centre in Scotland. 

This KTP has helped Fishers to move management to a more empirically-based decision making approach. For example, the data gathered on textile life gives Fishers actionable insight, enabling better informed decisions on scheduling of stock replacement. It also proved to be a platform for building better relationships with key customers, with senior customer managers and Fishers’ managers working together as partners to solve observable supply chain issues. 

Further this KTP has yielded environmental benefits, due to reduction of process waste, rework levels and increase in product recyclability.  Redesign of the operations system has helped to eliminate the use of plastic wrapping around clean linen, while RFID chips allow each garment’s journey/life cycle to be monitored, reducing waste and rework. This increased efficiency has also helped Fishers to reduce energy consumption. 

Contact details

 Undergraduate admissions
 +44 (0)141 548 4114

 Postgraduate admissions
 +44(0)141 553 6116/6105/6117


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