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Greater Manchester businesses win prestigious King’s Awards with support from GC Business Growth Hub

Two businesses from Greater Manchester have become inaugural recipients of the King’s Award for Enterprise with the help of support from the GC Business Growth Hub (the ‘Hub’).

Textiles producer Thomas Kneale supplies bedroom, bathroom and household textiles to public sector institutions, blue chip firms and private companies throughout the UK and beyond and has been recognised with the King’s Award for Enterprise in the Sustainable Development category, which was awarded to just 15 businesses nationwide.

Specialist industrial lubricant manufacturer, Metalube exports most of its production to more than 100 countries and has international offices in Dubai, Mumbai, São Paulo and Shanghai and has been presented with the King’s Award for Enterprise in the International Trade category.

Thomas Kneale currently employs more than 20 people and has its offices in central Manchester and took part in the Hub’s Journey to Net Zero programme in July 2021.

Since undertaking the Journey to Net Zero programme, Thomas Kneale has achieved a reduction to date of several tonnes per annum. The replacement of an old boiler with a modern, combi model is saving 2.3 tonnes of CO2e every year.

Brett Mendell, Director at Thomas Kneale & Co said, “Receiving this award is a culmination of many years of progressive and positive activity in the area of Sustainable Development, covering Environmental, Social & Ethical Trade aspects.

“We believe that it doesn’t matter what the size an organisation is, making a real difference to the lives of others and reducing the environmental impact of our activities are not afterthoughts to our core business, they are completely engrained within it. One of the areas we have been particularly active in over the last few years is Net Zero.

“We are a member of the SME Climate Hub and have halved our Scope 1 and 2 emissions earlier this year, seven years ahead of schedule. While real progress has been achieved, it was initially a daunting proposition, with a large amount of jargon, calculations and progressive reporting required.”

From its offices in Irlam, Metalube develops high performance industrial process oils and maintenance lubricants used across a variety of manufacturing applications worldwide.

The firm has completed a number of programmes with the Hub and The Growth Company since 2016, including securing grant funding from the GM Export Fund, helping staff undertake Executive Development training and wider workforce development.

Robert Brown, Managing Director of Metalube, said: “The Hub has provided invaluable support to our company over many years, and since 2016 we have been engaged with the Manufacturing Team, ensuring that we are offered the opportunity to embark upon programmes that continuously improve our manufacturing efficiency and overall cost competitiveness.

“We have also enjoyed great support from the rest of the Hub including the Workforce Development and Executive Development Teams. All of this help was crucial in helping Metalube secure a King's Award.”

Rebecca Bowcock and Martin Hyman, the respective advisors from the Hub said: “We are delighted that Thomas Kneale and Metalube’s dedicated efforts have earned them prestigious King’s Awards.

“GC Business Growth Hub has worked with both companies for several years, helping to secure funding, improve efficiencies and competitiveness while also creating a lasting commitment to improved environmental performance.

“It’s testament to their commitment to enterprise, innovation and sustainability that they have received such fantastic awards.”

Thomas Kneale has also taken part in the Hub’s Skills for Growth SME Support programme, including a training session on Inspiring Leadership.

Reflecting on the firm’s work with the Hub, Mendell said: “We have worked substantially with the Net Zero team at the Hub over the past few years, and their expertise, guidance and support to us have been invaluable.

“Far from a ‘one size fits all’ approach, the conversations and activities are focused around what our objectives are, and therefore their flexibility of the approach has been extremely helpful in getting the right support, that is tailored and targeted.

“There is no doubt that the Net Zero feature within our King’s Award application was stronger as a result of the support we have had, and therefore our thanks go to the team at the Hub for this.”

Brett Mendell (Director), left and Richard Manville (MD), right, with Patrick Forbes of Sodexo (Centre) receiving the ‘SME Supplier of the Year 2023’ award from Sodexo at Headingley Stadium, March 2023.

Pictured at Metalube, the Manchester based manufacturer of specialist industrial lubricants, are from left, Douglas Hunt, Robert Brown and Steve Hart

GC Business Growth Hub (

GC Business Growth Hub, part of The Growth Company, helps businesses at all stages of their growth journey with a broad range of services delivered by its experts, as well as public and private sector partners. These services include one-to-one and peer-to-peer business support, events, specialist programmes and funding.

GC Business Growth Hub was launched in 2011 and has helped thousands of start-ups, scale-ups and established businesses across Greater Manchester.


The Growth Company

The Growth Company is a UK-wide not-for-profit economic development agency that seeks to generate inclusive growth in the country’s economy by creating jobs and improving lives. It offers a wealth of services that support growth among individuals, businesses, cities and regions. For more information, please visit



GC Business Growth Hub is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) 2014-2020, as part of a portfolio of ERDF-funded programmes designed to help ambitious SME businesses achieve growth and increase employment in Greater Manchester. Eligibility criteria apply. ERDF is a fund allocated by the European Union that finances convergence, regional competitiveness and employment and territorial co-operation.

The Department for Communities and Local Government is the managing authority for the European Regional Development Fund Programme, which is one of the funds established by the European Commission to help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support local businesses and create jobs. For more information, visit European Structural and Investment Funds: Documents and Guidance - GOV.UK (  


Local Growth Fund

Local Enterprise Partnerships are playing a vital role in driving forward economic growth across the country, helping to build a country that works for everyone.

That’s why by 2021 Government will have invested over £12bn through the Local Growth Fund, allowing LEPs to use their local knowledge to get all areas of the country firing on all cylinders.

Some additional key facts:

  • There are 38 LEPs covering the whole of England
  • The government has awarded £9.1bn in three rounds of Growth Deals to local areas to drive economic growth.
  • LEPs are investing in a wide range of projects including transport, skills, business support, broadband, innovation and flood defences.


Northern Powerhouse

Some Northern Powerhouse key facts:

  • The Northern Powerhouse is a key aspect of this Government’s approach to addressing the productivity gap in the North and ensuring a stronger, more sustainable economy for all parts of the UK.
  • The government has awarded £3.4bn in three rounds of Growth Deals across the Northern Powerhouse.

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