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Thomas Kneale Is An Inaugural King’s Award Winner For Enterprise In Sustainable Development

Such an honour for us and a reward for our sustainability journey

Thomas Kneale Kings Award

In the Summer of 2022, we decided to apply for the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise. We felt we had a very persuasive and evidence-based case to justify our submissions in the Sustainable Development Category.

In early 2023, the Award was renamed the ‘King’s Award for Enterprise’ following the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. We prepared our case carefully, responded accurately to the questions and submitted documentation demonstrating that we do not simply pay lip service to sustainability but actually deliver on it, day in day out and that we had a very strong story to share.

To have been initially shortlisted and then subsequently informed we had won the King’s Award was beyond our wildest hopes and dreams. And to be among a tiny group of only 15 organisations nationwide in the Sustainable Development Category was truly amazing.

Our Passion For Sustainability

How many of us can identify with the slogan ‘Pile it high and sell it cheap’? So often seen as the only way to operate in modern price driven supply chains. We believe when goods are purchased solely on price, organisations and consumers face some tough questions:

  • What is the real cost in both raw materials and human terms?
  • How much are people being paid to produce, pack and transport products?
  • Do they enjoy a decent standard of living and are they able to provide for their families?
  • Can they all put a wholesome meal on the kitchen table?
  • Do the products have green credentials or is someone paying a very heavy price to provide “cheap” goods to the end customer?
  • Do cheap products end up in a landfill site prematurely thanks to their limited life span and in-built obsolescence?

We all know the importance of the Environment, Ethical Trading, Social Value, and Labour & Human Rights, but can they go hand in hand with “cheap”? Can you synergise these two business models? For us here at Thomas Kneale, the answer is a categoric no! They are mutually incompatible. This does not mean we cannot achieve value for money, it simply means it has to be done in an ethical way and without ignoring international regulations or good governance.

How do sustainable goals sit in a business which must make a profit to survive?

Building From Basics, Starting Out On A Journey

Our own journey at TK has been an evolving one. In fact, at one time we didn’t even know what the acronym ESG stood for. Our journey to this epiphany was not a straightforward one, as we suspect is neither the case for many other companies. It’s a learning curve during which credentials and accreditations are sought and acquired.

We gained the knowledge of doing business in a better way, in a fairer way and in a more honourable way. We learned that cutting corners serves no one in the long term. By continuing to develop the thinking from ‘cheap’ to ‘value for money’, from unregulated trading to regulated trading, we are confident we are seen as a more trusted and desirable company to buy from. Our reputation grows and so does our brand. And we are therefore able to grow profitably specifically because we trade ethically and sustainably.

Accreditations and awards are a reflection of our social and environmental impact

The accreditations we have now achieved after many years are the glittering plaques and certificates that adorn our reception wall area, but to have arrived at this point, an enormous amount of work has been done. For example, preparing the required policy documents, having the scrutiny of the external audits, delivering our purchasing strategy. Everything from the LED lighting in Manchester to solar panels in our factory in Pakistan, recycled content in products and ultimately recycling products after initial use.

The recognitions we have achieved reflect what this means not only to us, but importantly to the day-to-day life of a cotton picker in Bangladesh, Pakistan or areas of the developing world from where we import our goods. Some of our other accreditations and awards:

  • Sodexo SME Supplier of the Year 2023
  • University of Manchester, Supplier of the Year 2017
  • Ecovadis Sustainability Index, Gold Medal (top 5% of recipients) 2019-2023 awarded each year
  • Living Wage since 2015 & Living Hours since 2023 accreditation (Living Wage Foundation)
  • SME Climate Hub member since 2021 (part of UN Race to (Net) Zero with fully evidenced carbon calculator
  • ISO 9001 since 2006 & ISO 14001 since 2015 UKAS certified organisation
  • Friend of Re-Use Network since 2022

More On The Award

The process went from a recommendation by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to His Majesty the King who we are delighted to say endorsed the PM’s recommendation. We now look forward to a reception with The King Charles III at Buckingham Palace, and a subsequent visit to our Offices in Manchester of the Lord Lieutenant.

This award is the culmination of many years of hard work pushing the boundaries. It recognises the whole team at Thomas Kneale and that the company has indeed done a good job and has been able to empirically demonstrate that it contributes to a better world today and for future generations. All we need is the will, the vision and the motivation. Any company can achieve this. We highly recommend it.

We hope our success in winning this award this will spur on other companies to take the same path and wish every company good luck as they start or continue their journey.

Read The Online 2023 King’s Award Magazine Here

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