Two BSc (Hons) Economics students from Plymouth University have triumphed in a competition designed to improve their marketing skills and enhance their employability.

Second year students Morwenna Dobson and Rebecca Crocker were crowned champions of the Michael Spiers Business Project, a collaboration between the South West jewellery retailer and the Futures Entrepreneurship Centre.

Open to any students currently enrolled at the University and first held in 2014, the participants in this year’s competition were asked to undertake competitor research into comparable, high-end accessory retailers who have embraced e-commerce and digital marketing.

They then produced a practical marketing strategy, detailing their findings and recommendations on issues including social media, banner advertising and affiliate marketing.

The top three teams gave presentations of their findings to the company’s directors and media agency, with the winners announced at a champagne reception at the Michael Spiers showroom.

As well as awarding first place to Morwenna and Rebecca, there were also presentations to the second place team of Stephen Allard (second year BA (Hons) English With History) and Timothy Saiers (second year BA (Hons) English), while third place went to Olivia Jeffery (second year BSc (Hons) Economics) and Nathan Edwards (second year BSc (Hons) Business Economics).

Penny Hele, Inspiring Futures Project Officer for Futures Entrepreneurship Centre, said:

“Once again, it has been fantastic to work in partnership with Michael Spiers in this mutually beneficial competition. The students involved have put a lot of effort and hard work into their research and presentations, and we know it is already reaping rewards outside of this competition. In interviews for placement year opportunities, employers have been very interested to hear about the knowledge and skills the students have acquired whilst undertaking the work-based learning experience with Michael Spiers.”

Previous participants in the competition have also used the experience to get a step-up in their careers, with 2014 winner Emma Williams securing a placement year with cosmetics giant L’Oreal.

Michael Spiers Jewellers is a family-owned, award-winning business which was founded more than 60 years ago, and has locations across the South West, with showrooms in Plymouth, Truro, Exeter and Taunton.

Company director Keith White said:

“Having the opportunity to work with the talented team of students and staff at Plymouth University highlights another area of excellence for the city. This year’s entrants represent our future customers and we take their opinions very seriously and welcome their views. My fellow directors and team were very impressed with last year’s results and have implemented many of the recommendations, and we hope the insight and endorsement each student will get from working with our business gives them an advantage in the highly competitive employment market."