Franchising in London
Bird & Bird LLP’s team excels across the food and beverage, retail, hospitality and leisure sectors and has also recently expanded its expertise in the healthcare, education and green energy arenas. The UK team has three dedicated partners with one focusing solely on franchising disputes; Mark Abell heads up the group, Graeme Payne has notable expertise handling growth and expansion strategies, and Victoria Hobbs specialises in contentious work. The practice has a high-profile client roster, which it advises at a national and international level with KFC, Costa Coffee and Hamleys being key examples, while Payne and legal director Shelley Nadler have advised Mothercare on franchising issues in more than 60 countries. Associate Nick Green is also a key name to note.
Migeca – Ca’puccino
Franchise Brands (ChipsAway, Ovenclean, Metro Rod, Barking Mad)
- Advising Mothercare on its franchising documentation for use in over 60 countries and also assisting with the renegotiation and restructuring of deals internationally and multiple e-commerce projects.
- Assisting Pizza Express with its international franchise expansion as well as reviewing its franchise documentation and commercial offer.
- Assisting The Perse School with a deal for the development of a number of schools under its name in China.
- Advising Black Sheep Coffee on its international brand portfolio management and on the grant of franchise rights for the Philippines.
David Bond and Gordon Drakes now jointly lead the practice at Fieldfisher following the retirement of former franchising and licensing co-head Chris Wormald. Other key practitioners include Andrew Dodd, who heads up the firm’s franchise disputes practice; litigator James Seadon and James Corlett, who is based in the firm’s Manchester office and focuses on the fashion retail sector. The group handles national and international matters including the franchising aspects of corporate transactions, commercial structures, global franchise rights, master franchise issues and litigation. Clients span the retail, food and beverage, hotels and leisure, education and estate agency sectors; noteworthy franchisor examples include Starbucks, Brighton College, Boparan Restaurants and Snap-On Tools. The team has also recently advised the Arcadia Group on several strategic international matters including its expansion into Hungary.
David Bond; Gordon Drakes
Gourmet Burger Kitchen
Boparan Restaurants (Giraffe, Ed’s Easy Diner, Harry Ramsen’s, Slim Chickens)
- Advising Arcadia Group on various strategic matters including advice on the the regulatory environment in Iran and expansion into Hungary.
- Assisting Oasis Fashions Group and Warehouse Fashions Group with their international development and the establishment of their franchise arrangements in multiple countries.
- Advising the in-house EMEA team at Starbucks on updating its template agreements, franchise renewals and the data and financial aspects of its European loyalty card scheme.
- Handling Brighton College’s international franchise expansion including granting franchise rights for the construction and operation of a new International Brighton College in Singapore.
- Assisting Boparan Restaurants with multiple franchising issues including international franchise deals and renewals.
Franchising boutique Hamilton Pratt, which operates out of Warwick, advises franchisors on the full spectrum of matters. Name partner John Pratt, who founded the firm in 2004, has broad expertise of franchise agreements, competition-related mandates, franchise disputes and agreement reviews. James Barrett is the primary contact for contentious work and Barbara Lock has substantial experience in the financial services sector. Noteworthy clients include Boots Opticians, Dunkin Brands and City Sightseeing.
‘Hamilton Pratt has exceptional service levels, response times, monthly reporting and niche skills in franchising.‘
‘The firm is approachable, business-like yet friendly, and exceptional in terms of franchising experience and judgement.‘
‘James Barrett is highly skilled, reliable and tenacious, and has a deep understanding of franchising.‘
‘John Pratt is very efficient and gives clear, sensible advice, based on a wealth of knowledge and experience, which helps keep clients out of trouble.‘
Belvoir Property Management Group
Lift Brands/Snap Fitness
City Sightseeing Limited
The Camping & Caravanning Club
Wiltshire Farm Foods (part of the Apetito Group)
- Preparing a franchise agreement for Easy-storage.
- Assisting e-Money with the preparation of a franchise agreement and its international expansion.
- Acting for City Sightseeing on its franchise agreements and representing it in disputes with its franchisees across Europe and worldwide.
- Reviewing Freedom Boat Club’s French franchising agreements for use in the UK.
Dentons’ practice is led by Babette Märzheuser-Wood, with Tim Constable leading the firm's franchise disputes group. The team is highly regarded for its retail sector expertise and also regularly handles matters in the restaurants, hotel, leisure, education and healthcare industries. Notable clients include Cath Kidston and Avis; the group also advised Debenhams on its new franchise strategy, and acted for Godiva on the restructuring of its franchise and distribution agreements in Vietnam, Korea, China and Indonesia. Märzheuser-Wood specialises in international franchise and concession agreements and IP-driven joint ventures, and is particularly active in hotel and leisure franchising.
Other key lawyers:
‘Dentons is a truly global practice with a very strong presence in London. It has a strong record in the telecoms sector and is across the latest developments in the field, as well as taking a forward-looking approach to future challenges.‘
‘The group is very much hands-on with a great business sense leading to innovative legal solutions. It is dedicated with a drive to find a win-win solution.‘
The Entourage Group, The Butcher (Hamburgers)
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services
North Island Company
- Assisting Debenhams with its new franchise strategy including reviewing its existing franchise agreements and the creation of a new suite of documents.
- Advising Dollar Rent a Car on the expansion of its franchising network in South America.
- Handling the restructuring of Godiva’s franchise agreements and franchise and distribution agreements in Vietnam, Korea, China and Indonesia.
- Acting for Zleep Hotels on the negotiation of a franchise agreement for a new Moxy branded hotel in Scandinavia.
- Acting as lead franchise counsel to Avis outside the Americas, handling international franchising work and franchise disputes.
Stevens & Bolton LLP’s franchising team sits within the firm’s corporate and commercial department and includes practitioners from the dispute resolution, real estate and banking and finance teams, among others. Nicola Broadhurst heads up the group and has notable expertise in international franchise expansions, master franchise agreements, area development agreements and international unit franchise agreements. The practice also handles franchise business establishments, international issues, franchise disputes, IP-related work, ethical franchising, e-commerce matters, network resales and property mandates. Sarah Murray and Andrew Quick are the key contacts for contentious work, Andrew Steele handles real estate matters and Helen Wheddon focuses on property disputes, and Tom Lingard is an expert in brand protection and enforcement issues.
‘Stevens & Bolton has an extensive knowledge of international franchise and wholesale law and a strong network of local partners who can offer on-the-ground advice in specific markets. Given the international basis of the work, it’s not essential to be central London based and having offices outside of London allows it to offer its services at a competitive rate.‘
‘Each member of the team is very approachable and very willing to listen to the client, considering their position carefully before sharing professional advice or recommendations for action. Clients value their expertise and human approach and the fact that they appear to value each client.‘
‘Nicola Broadhurst provides innovative advice, her speed of response is exemplary and she has a complex and detailed understanding of franchising and GDPR. Her level of service goes beyond the norm.‘
‘Nicola Broadhurst’s knowledge of her clients’ brands and international strategies allows her a unique perspective on advising the businesses. She shows belief and passion in what her clients are trying to achieve and gives trusted counsel.‘
Lake Dust Limited
Esquires Franchising (UK) Limited
The Wheel Specialist
The British Franchise Association
Papa John’s (GB) Limited
ILG Ltd (Il Gusto)
Cookie Dough Franchise Ltd
T.M. Lewin & Sons Limited
Three Horses Limited
Berkeley Int. Corporation Limited
Hope Into Action
Promedica Plus UK Limited
COOK Trading Limited
The Calendar Club Limited
Pepe’s Piri Piri Limited
Monkey Music Limited
Curae Norge AS
Leightons Holdings Ltd
Vapouriz limited (the Vape Store)
Kokoro Franchise Ltd
LS Franchise Ltd (Little Street)
Razzamataz Theatre Schools Limited
- Advising Papa John’s GB on its franchise expansion including updating its template franchise agreement, franchise resales and franchise property work.
- Preparing a new template franchise agreement for ILG for its kiosk and pop-up version of the main business.
- Advising T.M. Lewin & Sons on its international franchise and distribution operations.
- Assisting Promedica 24 UK and Promedica Plus UK with franchise operations to help consolidate its franchise base in the UK.
- Acting for Lake Dust on its acquisition of the master franchise rights of a domiciliary care business in Ireland.
The dedicated practice at Ashtons Legal advises a range of national and international clients (primarily franchisors, master licenses and franchise developers) with particular expertise in assisting clients expand overseas. The group also assists with the establishment of their franchise models, franchise agreements issues and renewals, franchise resales and contentious work. Damian Humphrey heads up the department, which also includes consultant John Chambers and Tom Bailey, who focuses on contentious mandates. Clients include Easygym and Bubbleology; the team acted for the latter on the establishment and expansion of its UK franchise operations including its Waffleology brand.
Monkey Puzzle Day Nurseries
- Advising Bubbleology on the establishment and expansion of its UK franchise operations including its additional Waffleology offering.
- Assisting Tossed with the granting of franchise and development rights to open Tossed outlets to the Mid Counties Co-Operative Society and to global facilities services company ISS.
- Advising TaxAssist Accountants on the restructuring and resale of TaxAssist London development area.
- Acting for CeX on the resale of four of its stores based in the South East to an existing franchisee.
- Advising EasyGym on the granting of franchise rights to open EasyGyms in France.
DLA Piper is a key name in the market for international franchising work and regularly advises on cross-border expansion through multi-unit franchise structures, brand roll-outs across multiple jurisdictions, and assists non-UK clients on entry into the UK market. 'First-class adviser' Iain Bowler leads the group and primarily focuses on the retail, food and beverage, and hospitality and leisure sectors; other key individuals include Leeds-based Matt Duncombe, who is global co-chair of the firm’s hospitality and leisure practice; and senior associate Maria Fitzpatrick, who is experienced in geographic expansions.
‘DLA Piper fields a very responsive, commercial and experienced team. The firm is able to provide a seamless and effective multi-jurisdictional service.‘
‘As a global firm, it possesses a good global vision of the franchising industry.‘
‘Iain Bowler is extremely knowledgeable and commercial and very approachable and responsive.‘
‘Iain Bowler is a first-class adviser with strong knowledge of franchising and very good connections.‘
‘London-based partner Iain Bowler is extremely competent. He is able to explain franchising concepts to the client in an effective manner and his ability to help structure franchising projects is sound. Coming from a business background, he never loses sight of the economics of any given matter‘.
- Advising Merlin Entertainments on entering into a multi-territory partnership with Entertainment One to license the Peppa Pig brand for location-based entertainment attractions.
- Assisting Amaris Hospitality with issues relating to several different portfolios under management and franchise with operators.
Led by David Kaye, Harper Macleod LLP’s practice is notably strong across the food and drink, charity, retail and health and fitness sectors; the group recently advised Hero Brands on its acquisition of the rights to the Salaid brand and assisted United Brands with the sale of one of its London-based outlets via a franchise resale. Arcadia Group, Chicken Cottage, Veganuary and Cash Generator are also clients. Kaye is particularly recommended for his work in the retail sector.
‘Harper Macleod has a small, tight practice, which means that communication is very strong. It allows clients to pick up the phone and know that the person they’re dealing with knows what’s going on.‘
‘The Harper Macleod team consistently delivers what is needed, on time and on budget. The response time is excellent and it has the capability and desire to flex the service delivered according to the priorities the client has as a business.‘
German Doner Kebab
Turkish Food Centres
Stonebaked Pizza Co
Fashion Retail Academy
Total Solutions Group
The Bagel Factory
- Assisting Cash Generator Franchising with all of its franchising matters.
- Advising Hero Brands on its acquisition of the rights to the Salaid brand.
- Representing Figurella USA in a dispute with a London-based franchisee including the enforcement of restrictive covenants.
- Advising Veganuary on its international franchising and licensing issues.
- Assisting Total Solutions Group with the expansion of its franchising in the UK.
Mishcon de Reya LLP has substantial expertise in the retail and fashion sectors with a growing practice acting for hotel owners and developers; it also stands out for its global franchise expertise, franchise expansion work and brand clearance advice. Notable clients include Oliver Sweeney, Hawes & Curtis and Al Mana Lifestyle Trading. Lewis Cohen heads up the international franchising and brand extension group, and recently advised Tesco on its international franchise arrangements for its F&F clothing and accessories brand. The team also handles contentious work and competition issues.
‘The team is very personable and takes the time to understand the client’s business and build meaningful relationships.‘
‘Lewis Cohen runs a very good team.‘
Tesco Stores Limited
Hawes & Curtis
Caramel Limited (Caramel baby & child)
Al Mana Lifestyle Trading
Marie Chantal Limited
Kerb Food Limited
Toy Room Brands Limited
- Advising Tesco on its international franchise arrangements for its F&F clothing and accessories concept.
- Assisting Antognolla Spa with its franchise, hotel management, services, residences licence and marketing agreements with a well-known luxury hotel brand.
- Advising Busaba Eathai on its franchise partnerships in the Middle East.
- Assisting Linda Farrow with its franchise relationship with a key consumer mall operator in Uruguay.
- Handling franchise arrangements for Al Mana Lifestyle Trading with a large retailer.
With notable strength across contentious and non-contentious work, Owen White acts for a range of franchisor and franchisee clients including Bluebird Care Franchises, Energie Fitness Clubs and Snack In The Box. Jane Masih leads the practice and focuses on non-contentious issues including franchise agreements and other contractual documentation, franchise resales and franchise brand acquisitions. Russell Ford is the key contact for contentious work and works alongside associate director Lynsey Smith.
Bluebird Care Franchises Ltd
Energie Fitness Clubs
Snack In The Box
Wilkins Chimney Sweep
- Advising two individuals on their acquisition of the master franchise rights in the UK for the Spa 8-10 brand.
- Assisting Darren Taylor Holdings with acquiring the Vendo franchise brand.
- Acting for Home Instead Senior Care on its resale of multiple franchises and litigation relating to the termination of franchises.
- Representing Bluebird Care Franchises in a dispute against a franchisee relating to breach of contract issues and contract terminations.
Manchester-based Pauline Cowie leads the group at TLT, which sits in the firm’s wider commercial practice and has expertise in high-profile franchising projects and international franchising issues. The practice is particularly active in the automotive sector and Cowie is noted for her retail sector expertise; clients include Sainsbury’s, The Co-operative Group, WHSmith, Peacocks Stores and Jane Norman International. Cowie also has experience in the hotel and leisure sectors and has also assisted clients with franchising projects in China. Perran Jervis and Bill Hull in the firm’s Bristol office, are also key practitioners and lead the firm’s commercial and commercial services teams respectively.
‘TLT stands out for several reasons. It treats clients with respect, acts with integrity, adds value and puts its clients interests at heart. It offers a wide range of services and has offices in several major cities in the UK.‘
‘Pauline Cowie has a wide range of expertise, spanning the retail, leisure, financial services, IT and telecoms and not-for-profit sectors. She is a first port of call with any legal aspects relating to franchising and is highly recommended.‘
The Co-operative Group
Peacocks Stores Ltd
Jane Norman International Limited
Merlin Entertainments Ltd
Greene King PLC
National Franchised Dealer Association
- Acting for an international FTSE 250 fashion retailer in a supply chain dispute and advising on the management of its international franchise agreements.
- Assisting WHSmith with the negotiation of an agreement for the operation of further Post Office franchises across the WHSmith estate.
- Advising Encore Capital on the sale of Stagecoach Theatre Arts to Trafalgar Entertainment Group and the related franchising issues.
- Assisting a food and beverage operator with strategic franchising projects in overseas jurisdictions.
- Advising a salon and hairdressing service provider as master franchisee for a major brand on the development of a model for the expansion of the brand.
Legal director Ed Savory heads up the practice at Birketts LLP, which has particular expertise in advising on the set-up, expansion and management of franchise networks at a national and international level, and franchise litigation. Senior associate Robert Tiffen is also a key name to note and is a franchise litigation specialist, while fellow senior associate Sarah Lewis specialises in drafting franchise agreements and reviewing operations manuals for franchisors. Savory recently advised Zedify on its establishment of a licensed network of low emission couriers and assisted Make Believe with the growth and diversification of its franchise network.
Escape Hunt plc
UK Desserts Ltd
British Franchise Association
- Advising Make Believe on the growth of its franchise network.
- Assisting Escape Hunt with its UK and global franchise operations.
- Acting for Zedify on its establishment of a licensed network of low emission couriers.
The practice at CMS leverages the firm’s huge global network to advise on cross-border franchising matters and has substantial expertise in the hotels and leisure sector, regularly handling hotel management agreements and acting for hotel operators, owners, banks and purchasers; notable examples include Ikos Resorts, AccorHotels and new client Hilton International. The team is also active in the retail sector and counts Holland & Barrett as a key client. 'Excellent lawyer and tactician' Joel Vertes leads the international franchising group and focuses on franchisor clients; he recently advised J. Barbour & Sons on its first launch into China. The 'exceptional' Thomas Page heads up the hotel and leisure group and corporate partner David Roberts is also recommended.
‘The team, headed up by Joel Vertes, is excellent and highly knowledgeable, drawing on resources across the firm.‘
‘Its expertise in hotels is second to none and it can advise on the pure legal areas, but is also excellent at participating in discussions and giving advice in other deal-related areas.‘
‘Joel Vertes is an excellent lawyer and tactician.‘
‘Thomas Page is a stand out partner on deals and is exceptional at all times. He is a go-to person for any technical advice or where there is a significant deal involved. He’s both professional, exceptionally knowledgeable but also very commercial which is rare in a partner.‘
Holland & Barrett
J. Barbour & Sons
European Hotels Private Company (EHPC)
Neilsen, Corinthia, Movenpick, Sydell Group and others
Viacom (in relation to the Nickelodeon brand)
Surround Care Limited (and one of its directors personally)
- Advising Ikos Resorts on its franchise arrangements and other ancillary service agreements.
- Handling various deals for Barbour including its first launch into China with a franchise and license agreement and the launch of a branded fragrance.
- Assisting European Hotels Private Company with the development of the Edition Milan Hotel and all franchise, management, license and other service agreements.
- Advising Fnatic on its participation in the new franchised European Championship League for League of Legends.
- Handling multiple franchise and hotel management agreements for Neilsen, Corinthia, Movenpick and Sydell Group.
David Bigmore & Co in Association with Goodman Derrick LLP was founded in 1992 by David Bigmore - 'one of the most experienced franchise lawyers in the country'. Bigmore advises international and domestic franchises on both contentious and non-contentious mandates, working with both franchisor and franchisee clients. Recent highlights include franchise litigation, franchise agreement issues, international franchise establishments and franchise exits.
‘David Bigmore is a franchising veteran and rightly regarded as a leading practitioner in the field.‘
‘Working with both franchisors and franchisees, David Bigmore is the ‘go- to’ expert in franchising. In contentious matters, the firm has proven time after time that its grasp of law pertaining to franchising and the disputes that arise, is second to none. Solicitors specialising in franchising are relatively few, but clients expect David Bigmore & Co to come out on top in almost every case.‘
‘David Bigmore knows more about franchising law than any other lawyer in the UK and probably further afield.‘
‘David Bigmore is an exceptional practitioner of many years’ standing who has advised many leading franchisors and franchisees in the course of his career.‘
‘David Bigmore is one of the most experienced franchise lawyers in the country. When asked to prepare a franchise agreement you can be confident that it will be comprehensive, the critical clauses will be correctly drafted, ensuring the rights and responsibilities of both franchisor and franchisee are fully protected.‘
‘David is an exceptionally knowledgeable lawyer who is talented, tenacious, dependable and genuine.‘
Simons Muirhead & Burton acts for a wide range of clients including household names and retail clients including Unilever, Rachel Riley and Amanda Wakeley. The practice handles matters at a national and international level and regularly assists with franchise network issues, international franchising and licensing agreements and franchising disputes. Alongside its retail sector strength, the group is also experienced in the publishing and education industries. Maninder Gill leads the department, which also includes Natalie Wright, who excels in beauty industry franchisings.
Other key lawyers:
North London Collegiate School
With substantial expertise in the restaurant, hospitality, leisure, retail and fashion sectors, Travers Smith LLP regularly advises clients on issues beyond purely franchising work including brand licensing, IT arrangements and supply and logistics contracts. Recent work includes handling day-to-day franchising issues for BKUK, assisting Caffe Nero with a franchising agreement, and acting for Pret on its domestic and international franchising needs. Key contacts include newly promoted partner James Longster, Tom Purton and Ben Chivers. Dan Reavill heads up the group.
BKUK (master franchisee of the Burger King brand)
Pret (formerly Pret a Manger)
Jamaica Patty Company
M&L Offshore Investments
- Advised BKUK Group on its franchising requirements relating to the Burger King brand.
- Assisting Caffe Nero with its franchise agreement with Aramark.
- Advising Reed & Mackay on its franchising arrangements in the Netherlands.
- Acting for Investec Bank as the nominated adviser and broker on the placing of new ordinary shares by easyHotel.
- Advising M&L Investments on its international portfolio of hotels.