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University of Ulster business experts Dr Karise Hutchinson, Dr Andrea Reid and Lisa Donnell have been awarded a top management article award by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) for their article “ Closing the Needs-to-Offer Gap: customer relationship management in retail SMEs”

CMI’s Management Articles of the Year competition aims to bridge the gap between management research and practising managers working in UK organisations, by directing time-poor managers to the top five management articles from the past year.

Ann Francke, Chief Executive of the Chartered Management Institute, said: “UK universities produce some of the best management thinking on the planet. These winning articles offer brilliant bite-sized insights that will help managers deal with some of the priorities facing them in 2013.”

The three Ulster Business School researchers developed the work as part of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership project between Ulster and Menarys Department Store.

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships are government sponsored collaborations between academics, a highly skilled graduate and a company that needs their expertise. The team’s research “Closing the Needs-to-Offer Gap” aims to understand how changes in society are impacting upon retailing in town centres with recommendations for retail policy in the future.

The research argues that only by focusing on the long-term requirements of consumers rather than short-term solutions will the sustainability of the retail sector be realised. Retailers must avoid distractions and focus on what consumers want: they must close the gap!

Dr Karise Hutchinson said: "We are delighted to receive this award and indeed recognition of its relevancy to industry. The Knowledge Transfer Partnership programme was the perfect platform to collaborate with industry and develop new innovative research and solutions to drive the business forward.”

If you’d like to find out more about Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) programmes and how you can get involved contact Amanda Fullerton, KTP Business Development Manager at

To download their article and other winning entries, visit