Retail

Our Retail Team is absorbed in the sector and have specific knowledge key to retailers. From employee issues to lease renewals, IP protection to supply agreements, we have well-informed and industry-aware solicitors to support retailers and their management teams.

Our legal advisers benefit from specific sector knowledge to help reduce risks, nurture growth and support them in developing strategies for success. We have retail clients that represent over 2000 outlets and £300m+ turnover. Our retail experience is enhanced by lawyers whose day-to-day work supports nationally known retailers such as Majestic Wines, Subway and McDonald's franchisees.

We have commissioned research on technology within retail. Click here to download the full report for more insight into the shopping landscape of the future, the challenges that retailers and tech suppliers face, and the solutions that will enable them to unlock success.

Specialisms

Relevant work

  • Ashfords has successfully acted on behalf of management teams and founders of three well-known high street retailers and fashion houses. The team acted for Linda Bennett on her sale of LK Bennett, the team advised the founders of Fat Face on their sale of Fat Face, and advised the founding partners of Gro Group on the Management buy-out and exit from the company. We have also acted for Kilver Court designer outlet in the grant of leases to L K Bennett, Jack Wills, Hawick Cashmere, Mulberry and other designer retailers.
  • Acting as in-house counsel for Majestic Wine in its on-going major store expansion programme. Majestic currently operates from 206 stores and sees the potential to increase its store footprint to 330 stores nationwide. Our Real Estate Team advise Majestic on its expansion plans by securing units of around 3,500 square feet with good car parking in prominent locations generally on main roads outside town centres.
  • Our Employment Law Team has been acting for the franchisees of McDonald’s restaurants for a number of years in the defence of Employment Tribunal claims ranging from pre-proceeding settlement of claims to representation in the Tribunal. In addition to contentious advice, our team of experts help protect their business against costs of employment disputes, prosecutions brought against the business or its employees and representation on compliance and regulatory matters.
  • The team has acted for Subway for over 11 years, achieving many firsts during that time, being the first solicitor to agree leases in a UK airport, a Tesco store an Asda store, a McColl’s and a petrol station forecourt as well as acting on the flagship Subway store on Oxford street. The team has completed leases on over 600 Subway stores.

News

The National Living Wage: Rising Costs Raising Concerns

For the past couple of months, many minimum-wage workers have enjoyed a little extra in their pay cheques.

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Artificial Intelligence and the Role of the Salesperson

There was a bit of a to-do back in 2013 as the press speculated on the potential for robotics, powered by artificial intelligence ("AI"), to replace human salespeople. Three years down the line, are robots any closer to performing customer service and sales tasks?

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Retail and the Price of Oil

The remarkable decline in the price of oil has had a huge impact on aspects of the global economy ranging from manufacturing and transport costs to the price we pay for our food. Despite discussions among OPEC members about addressing price levels, the price is still more than 50 per cent below where it was in June 2014.

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Retail bulletin - June 2016

A summary of Retail news during June 2016.

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Surviving in an Online World: Is There a Place for Physical Stores?

First the digital revolution took our DVDs, then it decimated our newspapers, and now it is after our most beloved shops. It’s actually a good thing depending on your perspective.

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Contactless Technology and Security

With a mere tap of one’s card on a terminal, contactless credit and debit cards let us make payments of up to £30 without so much as a PIN.

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Beacon Technology: Slow to Take Off

Since Apple first announced its foray into beacon technology back in 2013, the expectation was for a revolution in the way that retailers engage with shoppers. By 2014, however, less than one per cent of US stores employed the technology despite its promise for increased revenue.

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Mind your step - technology to tackle counterfeit crime

Stewart James, Partner in the Commercial Team at Ashfords LLP, takes a look at how retailers can use technology to tackle counterfeit crime.

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The Landscape of Popular Retail Apps

Certain retail apps prove hugely successful while others are found wanting in terms of ease of use and an intuitive user interface. Evidence suggests that, at least amongst millennials, apps are downloaded predominantly because the corresponding mobile website is not as easy to use as the app.

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The Future of Virtual Reality

Virtual reality ("VR") has been hailed as the next big thing before, but following Facebook’s $2 billion purchase of start-up Oculus, known for its Oculus Rift VR headset, industry analysts’ predictions that thirty million headsets per year are expected to ship by 2020 seem rather more grounded in (non-virtual) reality.

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The Changing Role of the Retail Salesperson

It’s news to precisely no one that the competition faced by physical stores from online retailers is intensifying. To retain their share of shoppers, bricks and mortar businesses must necessarily evolve.

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The Brexit - What Retailers Should be Aware of

It is now confirmed that a referendum will be held on 23 June to decide whether Britain will remain in the EU and both the yes and no campaigns start in earnest.

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How is Big Data Changing Retail?

Big data can seem like a slippery term, but research out of the McKinsey Global Institute has cited its rather concrete potential to increase retailers’ operating margins by 60 per cent. By now, its utility is unquestioned (at least when properly exploited), but its use poses new risks both to the businesses seeking to unlock its promise and to the individuals whose information is being harvested – namely all of us.

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What’s Next in Retail Technology?

In 2014, a full forty per cent of consumers in PwC’s annual consumer survey declared that they purchase goods from a physical store once a week.

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Drones that Deliver

As we become accustomed to ever-higher levels of convenience, major retailers including Amazon and, more recently, Argos, are offering next-day and same-day delivery. The demand is there, however, for even faster delivery. Enter the drones.

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Where are Virtual Currencies Headed?

In the face of their increasing prevalence, virtual currencies have taken centre stage in debates about transparency and financial inclusion. Bitcoin, as the best-known example, has inspired the launch of many imitators.

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The Evolution of Contactless Payments

The remarkable growth in the volume and value of contactless payments across the European Union is the most obvious evidence of an evolving payments ecosystem.

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Integrating Online and Offline Retail

Flying somewhat in the face of conventional wisdom that an online presence is the be-all and end-all, evidence points to the market expecting not only some form of offline presence from retailers but a smooth integration of the consumer’s online and offline experiences to boot.

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Retail and Technology - Where worlds collide

Gone are the days when buying something involved simply going to the shop, browsing the available products, paying by cheque or cash and then taking them home to enjoy.

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The Alternative Dispute Resolution Regulations - do you know what they mean for your business?

In a bid to bolster consumer confidence, new European legislation has been introduced which will require traders to inform customers whether they are willing to use alternative dispute resolution ("ADR").

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Food Companies Provide Hearty Sustenance for M&A

Global M&A activity has increased by over a third in the last twelve months, with the early part of 2015 seeing a dramatic boom in transactions. Of particular note, in the UK more than £20 billion worth of food and drink deals took place last year, according to figures from Catalyst Corporate Finance (CCF).

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Is your business ready for the Consumer Rights Act 2015?

Current consumer law is made up of a lot of different pieces of legislation and places an administrative and compliance burden on businesses. It is also considered to be out of date. The aim of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 ("CRA 2015") is to consolidate current consumer legislation and to provide enhanced consumer protection and consumer remedies.

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The Rise of Retail Start-Up Incubators

When it comes to improving the in-store experience, industry watchers are describing an unprecedented amount of support and investment from retailers. Both established and plucky IT suppliers are generally the go-to for solving their technology problems. More recently, however, large chain retailers are supporting the effort by launching incubators and accelerators.

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Face-Recognition Technology: Its Uses and Dangers

Ever-increasing levels of competition and consumer demands call for more clever ways to mine behaviour. Given that facial-recognition software allows for the effortless collection of customer data, its adoption is no surprise. In fact, a 2015 survey conducted by Computer Science Corp found that almost thirty per cent of UK retailers are already using the technology.

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Retail Bulletin - July 2016

A summary of Retail news during July 2016.

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Eurozone Retail in Flux

Following a promising start to 2016’s eurozone sales figures, growth is now slowing and economists were expressing concern – before the Brexit vote results – about the effect on an already choppy global economy.

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The Rise of Psychographics over Demographics?

Knowing your customer is perhaps the most crucial step to securing their custom, and for this purpose the traditional approach has been demographic analysis. Technology, however, has opened the door to another kind of insight: psychographics.

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Spending Patterns and the New £30 Contactless Limit

Following an adjustment to the upper limit on contactless card transactions from £20 to £30 last September, transactions between £20 and £30 have grown nearly 20 per cent, and transactions below £20 have grown even more. Indeed, 36 million contactless payments have been executed since then to the tune of £900 million.

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Speed to Market and Modern Expectations

In retail, the time it takes to get items on the shelf matters. Consumers look for the newest products, and each retailer wants to stock them first. Speed to market, however, means something different depending on product category and the retailer’s reach.

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Applying Technology and Partnerships to the Benefit of Retail

It has nearly become a truism that shoppers expect greater flexibility and product choices, as well as consistent levels of stock and responsive customer service. Such expectations now define the consumer mindset, as illustrated by the fact that 86% of consumers would rather spend more to get a better shopping experience. Many of these same shoppers expect prices to be lower and response times to be quicker. How to keep up?

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Retail Technology Trends of 2016

Staying on top of ever-advancing technology is not easy for retailers, and it’s often not cheap. But there are numerous ways to innovate. So how are retailers creating unique experiences?

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Setting Online Minimum Prices - Risks Heavy Fines

In May 2016 the Competition & Markets Authority ("CMA") imposed substantial fines on suppliers in the bathroom fittings and commercial catering equipment sectors for engaging in online resale price maintenance with some of their retailers for specifying the minimum prices that the retailers could advertise for sales of the suppliers' products over the internet.

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Omni-channel Trends Changing the Shopping Experience

As modern expectations become the norm with customers expecting to shop and communicate with retailers at their convenience, many brands are necessarily rethinking their marketing strategy with a focus on omni-channel integration.

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A Brief Overview of What Innovation Means in Retail

For those coming to the retail landscape with fresh eyes, a sensible place to start is with an understanding of where retailers are trying to effect change. Where are the stalwarts of retail lending their energies, or at least watching closely, to give them an edge? In other words, what’s new?

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Harnessing Beacons to Engage with Shoppers

Back in 2014, online trendspotter InfoWorld predicted that widespread adoption of beacon technology by major retailers was imminent. Beacon software was celebrated for its ability to connect to our smartphones and tablets so retailers could market to us directly and launch a new level of interactive retail experience.

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Crowdsourcing in Retail

Best known among crowdsourcing platforms is the mighty Wikipedia, the number 7 Alexa ranked encyclopaedia, but crowdfunding, ultimately a subset of crowdsourcing that involves garnering money from participants, has been tapped by platforms like Seedrs and Crowdcube to give life to thousands of ideas.

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The Evolution of Retail

Using enthusiastic floor staff to woo them and exciting displays to wow them is at the heart of retailing to customers.

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The Rise of Innovation Partnerships

When US retail giant Target announced last year that it was partnering up with a well-known start-up accelerator, it was making a claim for embracing technology – not merely as an add-on but as the way forward.

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Managing the Try In-store, Buy Online Phenomenon

By now retailers are well aware that shoppers try on items in-store with a view to buying them later online. Similarly popular is the concept of showrooming whereby customers browse the shop but use their smartphones to find cheaper substitutes elsewhere.

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The Risks of Underperforming Retail Technology

Given an increasingly tech-savvy consumer base, retailers are necessarily leveraging the latest technology both in-store and online.

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The Push and Pull Between Data and Privacy

The promise of big data carries with it levels of personalisation and problem-solving that were not envisioned by the general populace even a few short decades ago.

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Beacons and Privacy

In a retail context, beacons are essentially Bluetooth transmitters that communicate with an authorised app when the device housing that app is within the vicinity.

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The Emergence of Beacon Technology

When a shopper arrives at their location – a store, a mall foyer, a commercial square – beacons use Bluetooth technology to alert an app or website on the shopper’s smartphone.

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A Primer on Omni-Channel Marketing

Omni-channel marketing, or simply omni-channel, refers to a holistic or integrated approach to companies’ engagement with their customers.

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Technology and Compliance in Retail

Questions of compliance must be addressed without losing sight of sustainable, profitable and scalable business practices. To meet even higher modern standards of compliance, retailers are turning to technology to ensure they are on top of stock management, health and safety, and the supply chain.

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The Shopping Seasons

Even while maintaining the spirit of the season, it’s impossible to ignore the sheer amount of footfall on the high street as shoppers find something appropriate to put a bow on. Savvy retailers know that Christmas represents merely one of the calendar’s opportunities for outsized sales. Let’s take a quick look at the others.

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Zanzan

Jane Ireland, Corporate Partner at Ashfords LLP, advised the creative team behind Zanzan eyewear, Gareth Townshend and Megan Trimble on a recent equity fundraising.

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Tech in Retail - wedded to contactless payment

The limit on contactless payments has just been raised to £30. However, the results of our survey show that retailers think that the limit should actually have been raised to £40 - £50.

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Consumer Rights Act 2015 - consumer notices

Commercial analysis: Will the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CRA 2015) tighten up consumer notices? Louise Workman, partner, and Hannah Batten, solicitor at Ashfords LLP, consider the effect CRA 2015 will have on consumer notices.

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Sunday Trading - consultation on devolving Sunday trading rules

The current Sunday trading rules were established 21 years ago in the Sunday Trading Act 1994. These were designed to limit the opening hours of large stores (those with a relevant floor area over 280 square metres/ 3,000 square feet) to 6 hours on a Sunday. Smaller stores are entitled to open all day. However, with a move towards a more secular society over this period and the changes brought about by internet shopping, is there a need for change?

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