As part of Start-Rite ’s journey in continuing to invest in future growth, 16 staff members at its Norwich HQ recently completed a 12-month LEAN programme, to learn tools and techniques that improve operational performance in the workplace.


The fun and interactive course, delivered by Gosport-based LEAN Business specialists, Fedden USP in conjunction with MIT Skills, demonstrates the practical application of LEAN principles in today’s business environments to improve profits through continuous improvement. The course consisted of five-days of LEAN theory, followed by eight days of mentoring to help the candidates deliver two work-based improvement projects that would benefit both them as an individual and the business.


The course was delivered by Colin Allaway, sector specialist at Fedden USP, who has over 20 years’ experience using best practice within various sectors, including extensive supply chain and logistics experience. Topics covered included the basic principles of LEAN, its origins from the Japanese automotive industry and how it applies to both operational and office environments; improving productivity and reducing lead-times; mapping out the customer journey to improve service levels; workplace organisation techniques; problem solving; creating standard operating procedures to capture best practice; and cost/benefit analysis.


Colin said: “Our workshops have a big emphasis on fun, as we use a range of games and business simulations to get the message across and ensure that people enjoy being part of the improvement workshop. The real benefit is in the use of work-based projects to embed the learning, whilst also providing an ever more important opportunity for both individual and team development. This has been most prevalent with the Distribution Team in particular and has been very rewarding.”


Implementing LEAN business processes across the business has helped Start-Rite to empower its workforce, improve productivity, increase the levels of innovation within the business, and support collaborative and cross-function working for future business initiatives.


Chris Knights, PM Shift Supervisor, at Start-Rite said: “I think the single most important factor regarding our LEAN course is the message it’s sent to the workforce. From day one, what your employers are doing is stating that not only do they value the constructive input of their staff, but they want to nurture and encourage it. My experience in working on the course with the Distribution Centre team has been extremely positive. A noticeable confidence is evident in some members of staff who previously may have been less likely to put their ideas forward or take ownership of a project, and this has made the course entirely worthwhile.”


Rebekah Lake, AM Shift Supervisor, at Start-Rite, said: “I found the LEAN course extremely interesting and beneficial, as it taught me a lot about saving time, energy and money for the company. It incorporates the meaning of a team effort and was an eye-opener into how a company can become more profitable.”


Ian Watson, Start-Rite CEO, said: “The development of skills within our office and distribution centre teams has had beneficial results for the business and individuals, in particular, helping to deliver a complete overhaul of our DC working practices to improve our service levels to customers and consumers.”


On completing the course, all candidates received a Level 2 NVQ qualification.


To find out more about the benefits of the LEAN development course visit