Four Merseyside firms secure King’s Awards

Four firms in Liverpool city region are among 252 across the UK to receive the King’s Award for Enterprise – with three securing the accolade for their trading overseas. Tony McDonough reports

JJ Smith
The JJ Smith team in Knowsley have secured a King’s Award


Three firms in Liverpool city region have boosted their international credentials after securing the King’s Award for Enterprise for International Trade.

Family-founded woodwork machinery manufacturer JJ Smith, international moving specialist John Mason International and operating table mattresses manufacturer Richardsons Healthcare have all been recognised for international trade.

A fourth King’s Award recipient is Rise Construction Framework, a supply chain framework that works with NHS Foundation Trusts, universities, councils and housing associations. It has received a King’s Award for “promoting opportunity”.

Formerly known as the Queen’s Awards until the death of Queen Elizabeth II in 2022, the awards recognise the outstanding achievements of UK businesses. A KAE offers significant prestige, particularly for exporters.

Winning firms are entitled and encouraged to make full use of this distinctive award by featuring the Kings Emblem on social media, their stationery, packaging, vehicles and website for a period of five years.

JJ Smith in Knowsley is a UK-wide supplier of woodworking and offsite construction machinery. It was founded in 1923 by four brothers and remains a family-run business with around a third of its team descendants of the original founders.

It is established as a leader in providing new and used woodworking equipment in the UK and overseas by having a close working relationship with suppliers from across the world, enabling them to innovate and develop the latest technology.


JJ Smith
JJ Smith in Knowsley supplies its products in the UK and overseas


Managing director Rachael Baker said: “What an incredible honour for JJ Smith and our community in Knowsley, Merseyside.

“As one of only four organisations in Merseyside to receive the King’s Award for Enterprise, we believe it is a testament to the hard work and dedication of every member of our team.

“It’s a recognition of our commitment to excellence and innovation in the woodworking machinery industry, as well as the work we have done over the past few years with the local community to provide more opportunities to young people.”

With bases in Knowsley and London, John Mason International Movers is one of the UK’s largest international moving companies.

Founded in 1884 by Mary Mason with just a horse and cart, the company initially delivered coal across the city of Liverpool.

Today, John Mason International moves more than 10,000 people each year to destinations such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the US, and the Middle East.

This award celebrates John Mason International’s extraordinary evolution from humble beginnings to orchestrating more than one million moves.

In 2021, Simon Hood completed a “true rags-to-riches story” when he acquired John Mason International via a management buy-out.

Taking the reins from the Mason family, Simon, who had an upbringing marked by hardship similar to the company’s founder Mary Mason, overcame significant personal challenges.

He grew up facing financial hardships, often helping his mother pick potatoes to buy school shoes for his older brothers after his father’s death at the age of five.


Simon Hood
Simon Hood, owner of John Mason International Movers


Despite these challenges and a speech impediment that required special education, Simon’s resilience and vision have propelled the company to remarkable financial growth amid global challenges. It now has a turnover of £13.5m.

“Receiving the King’s Award for Enterprise is not just recognition of our global excellence but also a celebration of our local roots and the spirit of Knowsley,” said Simon.

“It’s a testament to where we can go when we remember where we’ve come from—from Mary Mason’s horse and cart to now moving over 10,000 people around the world each year… the journey of John Mason International has been nothing short of a fairytale.”

Bootle-based Richardsons Healthcare offers more than 50 years of experience in the manufacture of operating table mattresses and accessory pads.

It operates from a 10,000 sq ft factory dedicated to the production of operating table mattresses and accessory pads. From there it supplies the world’s leading medical device manufacturers.

Based in Liverpool Rise Construction Framework operates a supply chain framework which comprises 100 supply partners across 17 groupings covering capital works and services.

The company says: “We are a compliant, ethical and transparent framework. You can rest assured there will be no surprises when working with us.

“Furthermore, 96% of Rise supply partners are small to medium enterprises, providing value for money, sustaining the SME economy and creating employment opportunities for local people.”

It secured its Kings Award for “helping care leavers remove barriers to employment, gain meaningful work and reach their full potential”.

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