Thomas Kneale & Co Ltd Sustains Success at Inaugural University of Manchester Awards Event

Socially responsible textile manufacturer Thomas Kneale & Co Ltd (TK) has been selected for recognition from over 8,000 suppliers to the University of Manchester. TK provide Bedding and Bathroom Textiles, Student Kitchen Starter Packs and Window Coverings to the HE Sector across the UK, and also supply (including but not limited to) custodial, immigration, emergency services and hospitality sectors. TK were recognized as Supplier of the Year for its exemplary work with NETpositive Futures, a supplier engagement online toolkit which has now been adopted by over 40 HE Institutions to identify and support businesses promote sustainability in their practices.

TK started working with the NETpositive Futures, the online tool which covers economic, social, ethical and environmental aspects of sustainability, when invited to do so in March 2016. The tool requires suppliers to select positive and negative impacts from a pre-populated list, and/or to create their own custom issues. This in turn generates an Action Plan with suggestions made to highlight ways in which sustainable impact can be improved.

TK embraced the tool from the outset. Both workforce and supply chain were successfully encouraged to generate ideas and create objectives which inaugurate and demonstrate ongoing sustainability development. Existing complementary work undertaken over a number of years provided further evidence when adapted. For example TK is a Living Wage Foundation Organisation, one of only 3,000 of the 5.4 million UK SME’s (0.06%) who voluntarily commit to paying an independently set sustainable minimum hourly rate to all its employees.

Areas covered in the tool include purchasing, modern slavery, waste, recycling and customer feedback and TK found that the NETpositive Futures Tool focused sustainability at the heart of their business practice. As an Accredited ISO 14001 Environmental Management System organisation, a member of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply Sustainability Index and a holder of Investors in People certification the tool provided TK with a home in which existing evidence could be referenced from the start. TK finds the tool stimulating with a focus on tangible outputs. Progress can be tracked against the requirements of the tool and can be updated as appropriate making it an ongoing piece of work and a holistic presence central to all company activity.

The University of Manchester held its first ever Supplier Awards Event on 8th November. From the 1,400 suppliers that completed the NETpositive Futures tool eight were shortlisted as Highly Commended based on the quality and detail of their response. The event, held at the Whitworth Hall at the University, included a number of speakers who discussed various aspects of sustainability in practice including Paul Gerrard, Group Policy and Campaigns Director at The Co-op Group, Alex Ganotis, leader of Stockport Council and Chair of the Greater Manchester Low Carbon Hub; and Stephen Dauncey, The University’s Director of Finance.

When the Awards were announced TK were thrilled to be recognised with ‘Outstanding Demonstration of Impact by a Local SME’. TK were praised in reference to their enthusiasm: ‘Your organisation’s commitment to consideration of sustainability issues is highly commendable and you really are a beacon for best practice’. Thomas Kneale responded by commenting that being a sustainable organisation was the right and only way to be a responsible business partner. There can be a cost implication to buying ethically, paying a fair wage, being environmentally responsible and incorporating all the necessary principles demanded by a sustainable business model but balanced consideration of all factors rather than sole focus on cheapest price is increasingly recognised as the sustainable way forward in best procurement practice.