Thomas Kneale and Co. Ltd named Inaugural King’s Award Winner for Enterprise in Sustainable Development

Manchester based textile company Thomas Kneale & Co Ltd (TK) has been awarded the prestigious King’s Award for Enterprise in the Sustainable Development category.

The award comes in the company’s 75th year – the same year the King was born, so it seems somewhat fitting to see them recognised in his inaugural awards.  Initially launched as a mail-order company selling bedding and textiles items such as eiderdowns, candy-striped flannelette sheets and tuck-in seat covers direct to the general public, the company has evolved into a bulk supplier of bedroom, bathroom and household textiles to public sector institutions, blue chip organizations and private companies throughout the UK and beyond.

At the very core of Thomas Kneale & Co’s business is new product development, which is still the case today, pursuing new textile solutions by creating high-performance, added value specialized textiles suitable for all types of residential accommodation which comply in full with customer outlet regulations.

The King’s Award for Enterprise, which covers the period 2023-2028, recognizes Thomas Kneale as one of only 15 organisations nationwide to be successful in the Sustainable Development category, and comes hot on the heels of the company being named ‘SME Supplier of the Year 2023’ by Sodexho.

The company currently employs over 20 people and has its offices in Central Manchester.

Managing Director, Richard J. Manville said:

As our supply model is B2B only and we are an SME, most people may not have heard of us. Yet, as a supplier to non-domestic bed settings many will have unknowingly experienced our products at first hand whether in a hospital, university hall of residence, a sleeper train, a hotel, conference centre and many other residential locations. We also supply a wide range of custodial outlets for the Ministry of Justice and service family accommodation for the Ministry of Defence. Our products are fit-for-purpose meeting exacting performance standards and compliance in many different customer segments. We manufacture the complete range of  bed and bath linens and fire retardant textiles from entry level through to luxury linens, always with a customer-centric approach and an unwavering eye on best overall value.

I am truly overwhelmed by this award in such a special year for the Royal Family and beyond delighted with this recognition of our company and our wonderful work colleagues

Shaun Killingley, Chair of Thomas Kneale & Co. Ltd. & a Director since 1985, added:  

TK has enjoyed many great moments, but this news is the first to have left me speechless. It is a tribute to the original ambition of my late business partner and joint co-founder Barry Manville and our shared vision that TK rewarded the commitment and determination of talented colleagues over four decades which has justified the trust customers and stakeholders continue to place in us.

TK may be small in size, but this prestigious award is a real boost to our stature and the confidence we all feel in enjoying what we do and knowing why we do it. What a significant milestone!”

Performance Director, Brett Mendell commented:

“Sustainability is wide-ranging, covering aspects of social, financial and environmental output and development. As we have been actively working and delivering in this field for many years, our measured progress is hopefully well-advanced by now, but we realise we are far from journey’s end. When sharing news of activities with stakeholders, we stress that we will never rest on our laurels nor feel we have done as much as is needed or is possible to do. Communities, employees, suppliers and customers should all work together and challenge each other to this end. For example, as a member of UN’s Race to (net) Zero, Thomas Kneale is part of the SME Climate Hub. Our commitment was to halve emissions by 2030. By 2023, we already achieved this across Scope 1 and Scope 2.”

Logistics Director Andrew Hall said:

Andrew pays tribute to the role others play and the contributions of a wide range of stakeholders.

Work colleagues have embraced our drive to deliver and  come up with their own initiatives. For instance, several of the team follow the company example and volunteer with charities and community initiatives close to their hearts. Our suppliers are encouraged to pioneer product development, with recycled materials deployed where appropriate in Arbry-branded products including towels, mattress protectors, duvets and bed linen. The charities and social enterprise partners we work with do amazing work in collecting, distributing, and re-purposing pre-used items retaining value to others.”

On receiving the award, Brett summarized as follows,

“We wanted to be considered for this very prestigious award in order to promote a wider knowledge of the things we have felt able to do whilst encouraging others to follow suit. As a Living Wage Foundation accredited member, and now Living Hours certified as well, we feel that Thomas Kneale has a responsibility to increase a wider awareness of Social Value and encourage the conviction that others too can commit. The Net Zero agenda is enormous and can appear off-putting in its complexity but there is help readily available. Thomas Kneale is part of a network of Greater Manchester organisations who openly share best practice and learn of new initiatives. Whilst we thought our company had a real story to tell we never felt we could actually win the King’s Award for Enterprise, so it feels fantastic to be recognised and vindicated as one of only 15 organisations in this category nationwide.”

This has raised the bar and quite rightly we are now expected to justify our new status as a King’s Award recipient. The further challenge will only serve to keep us focused and committed, The team at Thomas Kneale has all contributed and played  it’s part; we really do achieve together and support one another. We feel that the path we are following is absolutely the right  one for when it comes to sustainable development, we really don’t believe there is another option.”

The Kings Award award will be presented at Buckingham Palace later this year.


Image caption:

Richard Manville ( MD) and Brett Mendell ( Director) receiving Sodexo’s SME of the year award 2023