Home Business and economy Three Knowsley Businesses Awarded Prestigious King’s Award

Three Knowsley Businesses Awarded Prestigious King’s Award

by Lisa Bennett

Three Knowsley based businesses have been awarded the prestigious King’s Award for Enterprise.

JJ Smith and John Mason have been honoured with the King’s Award for Enterprise for International Trade and Alfred H Knight has been honoured with the King’s Award for Enterprise for Innovation.

The King’s Award for Enterprise is the United Kingdom’s most prestigious business accolade, celebrating exceptional achievements in commerce.

Only 252 organisations nationally have received the award and of the five King’s Awards for Merseyside, three are Knowsley businesses.

Based on Knowsley Business Park, JJ Smith was founded in 1923 and with a legacy spanning four generations has built up a wealth of experience surrounding international trade within the woodworking industry. The company has established itself as a leader in providing new and used woodworking machining solutions in the UK and overseas.

Rachael Baker, Managing Director at JJ Smith said:

“What an incredible honour for JJ Smith and our community in Knowsley, Merseyside. As one of only five 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. As a proud Knowsley business, we believe passionately in the role we play within the community and are keen to help other businesses within the Liverpool City Region to engage with their communities.”

The JJ Smith Woodworking Team

Huyton based John Mason was established in 1884 by Mary Mason with just a horse and cart, and initially delivered coal across the city of Liverpool. Today, John Mason International moves over 10,000 people each year to destinations such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the USA, and the Middle East.

In 2021, Simon Hood acquired John Mason International via a management buy-out and took the reins from the Mason family.

Simon Hood, Owner, and Executive Director at John Mason, reflected on the award, stating:

“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.

“Receiving the King’s Award for Enterprise is not just recognition of our global excellence but also a celebration of our deep local roots and the enduring spirit that has driven our company. It’s a testament to our journey—from Mary Mason’s humble beginnings with a horse and cart to now moving over 10,000 people around the world each year. From Coal Dust to King’s Gold, the story of John Mason International is truly a fairy tale.  When I purchased the company in the midst of a global pandemic, if you had told me then that just three years later, we would be winning the UK’s most prestigious business awards, I would have never believed you. My four-year-old daughter, who loves Disney and is fascinated by kings and queens, can’t believe her Daddy is going to meet a real-life king!”

John mason International Employees


Established in 1881 by Alfred Henry Knight, the family-owned business received the award for its disruptive innovation of the digital transformation of complex inspection services in

Africa’s metals and minerals sector.

Alfred H Knight operates in over 45 countries, employing over 4500 globally. Its headquarters is based in Prescot, North West, UK is a leading employer in the area with close to 800 laboratory and support function personnel across several sites.

Ian Baxter, Chief Executive Officer, Alfred H Knight, said:

“As one of our core values, innovation has been the cornerstone of the success of Alfred H Knight for over 140 years and remains at the forefront of our growth strategy moving forward. We are honoured to be in receipt of a King’s Award in the Innovation category, it is a testament to the expertise and dedication of our people and our ongoing commitment to enhancing our service offering, investing in our global operational infrastructure and delivering a high-quality service to our clients.”

Ian Baxter, Chief Executive Officer and Thomas Walder, Chief Operations Officer, Alfred H Knight


Cllr Tony Brennan, Knowsley’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Economic Development said:

“To receive a King’s Award for Enterprise really is an honour and recognises the outstanding achievements of organisations. For Knowsley to have three of its businesses presented with this award is such an amazing achievement. We have an extraordinary business community here in Knowsley and it is wonderful for these three businesses to be recognised with this prestigious award.”

The King’s Award for Enterprise, formerly known as the Queen’s Award for Enterprise, is the most prestigious business award in the country, recognising and celebrating business excellence across the UK. As recipients of this esteemed accolade, JJ Smith and John Mason International will proudly display the King’s Award Emblem for the next five years.


About King’s Awards for Enterprise

The King’s Awards for Enterprise are the most prestigious business awards in the UK. The awards were first established in 1965 and since then over 7000 companies have achieved a King’s Award. 2024 marks the second year of The King’s Awards for Enterprise, reflecting His Majesty The King’s desire to continue the legacy of HM Queen Elizabeth II’s by recognising outstanding UK businesses. The awards celebrate the success of exciting and innovative businesses which are leading the way with pioneering products or services, delivering impressive social mobility programmes, or showing their commitment to excellent sustainable development practices.