The team at Bird & Bird LLP has a 'considerable level of knowledge and experience' in developing hybrid franchising strategies for its high-profile client roster to expand their international businesses. It has particular experience operating in the food and beverage, retail, and hospitality and leisure sectors; it is also increasingly instructed by clients in the healthcare, education and energy industries. Headed up by Mark Abell, who is a go-to adviser within global education spheres, the department comprises three dedicated partners with one focusing solely on franchising disputes. Graeme Payne primarily handles growth and expansion strategies, while Victoria Hobbs is a franchising disputes specialist. 'Outstanding' associate Nick Green is also a key name to note.
Franchising in London
‘The team we work with at Bird & Bird are experts in their respective fields, with a considerable level of knowledge and experience. They each apply legal principles whilst being mindful of commercial considerations.’
‘Victoria Hobbs is our primary contact at Bird & Bird – and she has taken the time to understand our sector of business and can apply commercial considerations to different scenarios that we have required assistance with – taking a common-sense, no nonsense approach to resolve a variety of matters.’
‘The team is well appointed to assist our business across the large number of geographies in which we operate. Coverage is critical and Bird & Bird have been able to assist us through partner offices or credible relationships with associated offices. As a long-standing relationship between us and Bird & Bird, they grasp our business model well and are able to adapt it to different geographies. They are reactive to our quick changes in direction and quick requests for responses on specific items without much lead time or forewarning.’
‘We have been working closely with Nick Green. Overall he has been outstanding in servicing requests in a timely manner especially across challenging markets. He is attentive and goes beyond legal advice to look from a commercial angle with each of our franchise transactions. He has also been instrumental as we look to scale our global franchise program and maintaining standardisation across multiple countries.’
‘From the outset, all individuals we have communicated with are professional, very friendly and incredibly knowledgeable.’
‘It is very apparent how experienced the individuals within the team are. Mark Abell is an excellent leader and provides immense reassurance.’
‘They have a genuine desire to honestly put their clients first. They work to be pragmatic while ensuring they seek the best results for their clients. Mark Abell in particular is able to cut through the fog of complex topics and communicate clearly to his clients. Abell’s team including Graeme Payne, Victoria Hobbs, and Nick Green have all been especially additive to our business. Whether they are called on for everyday business matters, to complex GDPR issues, franchising matters, and acquisitions.’
Franchise Brands (ChipsAway, Ovenclean, Metro Rod, Barking Mad)
Royal Grammar School Guildford
- Advised Mothercare plc and its wholly-owned subsidiary Mothercare Global Brands on a major restructuring and refinancing.
- Advised burrito and taco chain Tortilla on a franchise development deal which will see the brand expand into travel sites (including airports, railway stations and roadside service areas) across the UK.
- Advised IWG plc (formerly Regus plc) on its international franchising and licensing arrangements; most recently helping the business build and develop a comprehensive franchise offering in the UK, EU, Asia and Africa.
The multi-disciplinary team at Fieldfisher handles a myriad of issues in the franchising space, providing a' well-rounded and wide base of knowledge and expertise', particularly in global franchise rights, master franchise issues, franchising litigation, commercial structures and the franchising aspects of corporate transactions. Described by one client as 'extremely smart' and 'quick-witted', David Bond and Gordon Drakes jointly head the department, which assists clients in the retail, food and beverage, hotel and leisure, education, and estate agency sectors; the team also deals with competition, IP and brand protection, real estate, technology, tax and employment issues. Drawing expertise from the firm's European and global networks, the team includes disputes specialist Andrew Dodd and James Corlett, who focuses on the fashion retail sector. Another name to note is senior associate Vicky Reinhardt, who has developed a hotel sector following in this space.
‘Franchising often implicates many different industries (ie not just the franchise agreement but also supply chain, GDPR and technology issues, etc). So while their experience in franchise law is very deep, they have a really well-rounded and wide base of knowledge and expertise that is very useful. They are always ready, willing and able to answer questions and offer their assistance, even when off the proverbial clock.’
‘The entire team is great, but Gordon Drakes and David Bond are particular standouts. They are both extremely smart, knowledgeable and most importantly quick-witted. It is rare to find attorneys who are just as talented as they are enjoyable to work with, and they both pass that test.’
St Paul’s Girls’ School
Gourmet Burger Kitchen.
Boparan Restaurants (Giraffe, Ed’s Easy Diner, Harry Ramsden’s, Slim Chickens)
- Supported St Paul’s Girls’ School in establishing its first international school, including drafting and negotiating the key franchise documents, registering the brand in China and setting up the new trading company, and putting intra-company contracts in place to allow it to function.
- Advised Boparan on the master franchise deal in which it obtained the rights to operate and sub-franchise the Slim Chickens concept in the UK and ROI.
- Advised Dominvs Group, one of the most active investors and developers of hotels in the UK with several projects during 2019, including handling negotiations with Hilton to terminate the relevant franchise agreement and ancillary documents.
Instructed frequently by franchisor members of the British Franchise Association, boutique firm Hamilton Pratt has a 'superb track record' in the franchising space. Areas of expertise include handling franchise disputes, resales, franchise agreements, competition issues and international franchising matters, including master franchise agreements and foreign franchise agreements. The Warwick-based team is spearheaded by named partner John Pratt, who is a 'well-respected authority in franchising'. Contentious expert James Barrett and Barbara Lock are the other names to note.
Lift Brands/Snap Fitness
Dine Brands International
- Advising Dine Brands International, Inc on its iHop franchise agreement and ensuring it complies with UK laws, custom and practice.
- Acted for Crombie & Lam Limited on its acquisition of the Homelets branch in Brighton.
- Acted for Boots Opticians Professional Services Limited on the resale of its franchised business in Beaconsfield.
At Dentons, the franchising team is noted for advising clients in the retail sector in particular, with additional expertise in the restaurant, hotel, leisure, education, and healthcare industries. As well as acting for established franchisors whose entire business model is based on franchising, the group also advises corporations who use elements of franchising strategically. Splitting her time between London and Warsaw, the team is headed by Babette Märzheuser-Wood, who specialises in international franchise and concession agreements, as well as IP-driven joint ventures. Tim Constable, who is the franchise disputes head, handles complex multi-jurisdictional franchise issues. The team also advises on IP protection and data privacy matters.
Other key lawyers:
The Entourage Group, The Butcher (Hamburgers)
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services
North Island Company
- Appointed to the franchise panel of IWG plc – the owner of the Regus, HQ, Spaces and Signature brands – to support its franchise roll out in new markets.
- Advised TRG Concessions, the concessions branch of the Restaurant Group plc, on the licensing of the major US fast food brand “Shake Shack” at a new outlet at Gatwick Airport, the brand’s first airport site in the UK.
- Advising Avis on various strategic franchise opportunities including in Africa (12 countries), Germany and Italy.
Owen White’s 'second-to-none' Berkshire-based franchising team is adept at handling both contentious and non-contentious matters for franchisors and franchisees. As 'a heavyweight in the sector', Russell Ford focuses on franchising disputes, particularly matters enforcing restrictive covenants in franchise agreements, as well as acting for clients in court cases. Practice head and non-contentious specialist Jane Masih advises franchisors on franchise and master licence agreements and handles the re-sale of franchise businesses and the sale and acquisition of franchisor networks.
Other key lawyers:
‘Very knowledgeable, particularly as relates to Franchising. A broad range of skills available including Employment, Trade Mark protection and property with obvious first class internal communication between partners and associates.’
‘The Owen White franchise practice is second to none. They are recognised as leaders in the field with the strength and breath of lawyers to handle any franchising dispute. Led by Russell Ford, who is a heavyweight in the sector, Owen White have a strong client following, representing both franchisers and franchises and almost invariably secure the right legal and or commercial result for their client.’
‘Russell Ford in particular is our “go to” person in all matters relating to Franchising and always provides us with solid practical advice and guidance thus avoiding unnecessary disputes. All other partners and associates give us first class support and we consider Owen White our most important strategic partner.’
‘Russel Ford. Having worked with Russel for in excess of 10 years I feel suitably able to comment on his prodigious talent. Without question he is a highly skilled technical lawyer who’s knowledge of franchising law is as good as if not better than most, with superb instincts and, of central import, a master tactician.’
Bluebird Care Franchises Ltd
Energie Fitness Clubs
Home Instead Senior Care
Cash Gen UK Limited
Costa Franchise Association
Be Military Fit with Bear Grylls
- Assisted O2 UK Limited with the negotiation of franchise agreements with its multi-unit franchise network.
- Advising the Cash Generator franchise network on the buy out of the brand and incorporation of a new franchisor owned by franchisees.
- Acted for Apollo Window Blinds Limited in an injunction to enforce post-termination restrictive covenants.
Stevens & Bolton LLP handles a mix of contentious and commercial franchising work for franchisors, multi-unit operators, master franchisees and franchisees. As part of the firm’s broader corporate and commercial department, the franchising team primarily advises clients in the retail, casual dining and education sectors. International franchise expansions, master franchise agreements, area development agreements and international unit franchise agreements are the main areas of focus for Nicola Broadhurst, who heads up the group. Other areas of strength include franchise business establishments, franchise disputes, IP-related work, network resales and property mandates. Names to note include litigation expert Sarah Murray, real estate specialist Andrew Steele, and Tom Lingard, who is skilled in brand protection and enforcement mandates.
‘The team are always available and provide both a legal and commercial view on how to deal with all situations. They are happy to deal with small issues, to major litigation work and easily flex their style to accommodate whatever the request is.’
‘The full team are very approachable and feel like a key partner and part of our business. This allows us to have full faith in them giving the right decisions and advice.’
‘Very responsive, dynamic highly engaged team. Not stuffy and very commercially astute. Highly recommend.’
‘Nicola Broadhurst -Very insightful and incisive.’
Papa John’s (GB) Limited
The Massage Company Limited
The Lifeskills Company SA (t/a Little Gym)
T.M. Lewin & Sons Limited
Christians Against Poverty
Integral Fitness Limited
Monkey Music Limited
COOK Trading Limited
Vapouriz limited (the Vape Store)
C. & J. Clark International Limited (Clarks Shoes)
- Providing a broad range of advice to Papa John’s on its franchise operation.
- Advising Clarks for a second time on its renewal process with its franchisees, as well as the divestment of a number of stores to franchisees.
- Advising The Massage Company on its first international expansion, including on the international master franchise agreement and the negotiations with its master franchisee in India.
Norwich-based firm Ashtons Legal is particularly adept at assisting clients with expanding franchising networks overseas. It advises a range of UK and international clients, which are almost exclusively franchisors, master licence holders and franchise developers. The team, led by the 'exceptional' Damian Humphrey, provides a franchise agreement issuing and renewal service to franchisor clients, as well as a franchise resale offering. Other key areas of focus for the team include handling the establishment of franchise models, franchise agreements issues, and contentious work. The department also includes consultant John Chambers and franchising litigator Tom Bailey.
‘Great team of people who are available 24/7 to deal with any issues that arise.’
‘Damian Humphrey is by far the stand out individual that I have had the pleasure to have working with us. His knowledge is exceptional but more importantly is his availability 24/7 and immediate responses to issues that we need assistance with.’
Monkey Puzzle Day Nurseries
Oscar Pet Foods
Radfield Home Care
- Acting for CeX on the resale of seven of its stores based in the South East to an existing franchisee.
- Advising TaxAssist Accountants on granting development rights for the TaxAssist London area and preparation of the associated documentation.
- Advised Pitman Training, as an international franchisor, on the purchase of the entire issued share capital of the company which operated as its master franchise holder for Ireland.
Harper Macleod LLP primarily assists clients in the food and drink and retail sectors with franchising matters, particularly overseas and domestic expansions, roll-outs and restructurings. The group also has a strong track record in advising clients on franchising-related commercial and corporate governance issues. Led by David Kaye, the 'very knowledgeable' department has seen increased levels of instructions concerning franchise resales and exits and has represented clients in contentious mandates, especially mediation proceedings.
‘You are treated as an individual and always have genuine interest in your needs. Very knowledgeable on their subjects and always have your interests first. Also they anticipate any needs you may have in the future.’
‘David Kaye – we have worked with David for nearly 30 years and his expertise is invaluable, not just on Franchising but help on personal and property law.’
Chicken Cottage Limited
Barrhead Travel Service Limited
TFC Holdings (London) Ltd t/a ‘Turkish Food Centres’
The Kitchen Depot Holdings Ltd
The Car Wash Company
The Little Art School
Fashion Retail Academy
The Crolla Ice Cream Company / Crollas Gelato
ZX Trading (AB InBev) t/a Beerhawk
Rainbow Room International
Total Solutions Group (London) Limited
- Advised Chicken Cottage Limited on the restructuring of its entire franchise network in the UK and expansion into Nigeria, Bangladesh and the UAE.
- Advised Fiscale Limited on its expansion through franchising throughout the UK; this included liaising with the company’s Franchise Consultants to draft the Franchise Agreement, Deposit Agreement, Trade Mark Licence Agreement and Confidentiality Agreement.
- Advising TFC Holdings on all franchising and corporate governance matters.
The international franchising and brand extension team at Mishcon de Reya LLP is regularly instructed by international multi-brand franchisees on international transactions, with notable strength in international expansions, national franchise agreements and brand clearance issues. Lewis Cohen leads the department, which is active in the retail, fashion, restaurant, and hotel sectors; it has also recently seen a notable volume of franchise-related instructions from developers.
HotPod Yoga Limited
Oliver Sweeney (MCFL Holdings Limited)
JKC Retail Ltd t/a Linda Farrow
Ormonde Jayne Limited
Al Mana Lifestyle Trading LLC
Al Mana Fashion Group
- Advised Antognolla SpA on a prospective Hotel Franchise Agreement with a well-known luxury hotel brand.
- Advising Oliver Sweeney on a prospective franchise development agreement in China.
- Advising Hotpod Yoga on a number of prospective international franchise and related agreements.
Promoted to the partnership in 2019, Ed Savory now leads the team at Birketts LLP, which advises master franchisors, master franchisees, franchisors, multi-unit operators and franchisees on the establishment, expansion and management of franchise networks. The firm also has litigation experience, with work ranging from contentious franchisee exits to complex brand enforcement matters.
Other key lawyers:
British Franchise Association
Escape Hunt plc
- Advising Welcome Break/Applegreen plc on its multi-unit operation of F&B franchises located at its numerous service stations located throughout the UK and Ireland.
- Advising the British Franchise Association on the admission of new prospective franchisors and reviewing franchise agreements to ensure they comply with its code of ethics.
- Advising Escape Hunt plc on its UK and global franchise operations.
Headed up by global hospitality and leisure sector co-chair Matthew Duncombe following Iain Bowler's departure to Freeths LLP in 2019, DLA Piper's team has experience on both the franchisee and franchisor side of the hotel sector, where it advises hotel brand operators and owners on large franchising deals. The Leeds-based team, which is also instructed by clients in the retail and food and beverage sectors, has particular expertise in multi-unit franchise structures and multi-jurisdictional brand roll-outs.
‘They cover all areas of the globe. Particularly strong in North America.’
‘Solid franchising skills across many industries.’
Gino D’Acampo Worldwide Restaurants Limited
Harris Research Inc
International Resources Group
Dolce & Gabbana
Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG)
- Advising Gino D’Acampo in relation to the design of a franchise system and documentation for the expansion of the well-known celebrity chef brand Gino D’Acampo outside the UK.
- Advising Drybar on an international multi-unit franchise agreement and strategic expansion regarding roll-out of blow dry bars across the UK.
- Advising Merlin Entertainment on its entry into the franchise market for its proprietary Madame Tussauds Brand.
Freeths LLP's practice expanded in mid-2019 with the arrival of new national practice head Iain Bowler from DLA Piper, where he was global co-head of commercial and franchise. In addition to providing franchising expansion and licensing assistance, the team advises franchisors on commercial contracts and intellectual property, real estate, dispute resolution, employment and competition issues. 'Capable of dealing with multi-national businesses and local ones just as well', the group acts for clients in the retail, manufacturing, media and digital, and hospitality and leisure sectors.
‘Great depth of experience at all levels. Capable of dealing with multi-national businesses and local ones just as well.’
‘Iain Bowler is outstanding at communicating complex issues simply.’
University College London – Educate EdTech Business Accelerator
- Advising a UCL business unit on taking its successful model for the mentoring and development of EdTech businesses into France, assisting with a bespoke licensing agreement and brand licensing agreement, as well as handling the related commercial and intellectual property aspects of the transaction.
Simons Muirhead Burton regularly advises household companies in the retail sector on national and international franchise networks, aided by practice head Maninder Gill's 'broad experience and knowledge in the retail sector'. Gill is also well-versed in franchise network issues, international franchising agreements and franchising disputes. As well as it's luxury retailer capabilities, the team also has a track record in advising publishers and schools on franchising-related matters.
‘I work mainly with Maninder Gill. He is very knowledgeable, very flexible and great at managing the cost.’
‘Having worked successfully and happily with Simons Muirehead & Burton for a number of years without any undue concerns, they have always delivered and I would have no problem in recommending them.’
‘I have known and worked with Maninder Gill for many years. What has made him different for me is his availability, his immediate grasp of a problem and the quality of the people he has on his team. In addition to this, having worked as leading in house lawyer for a high profile major retailer, his broad experience and knowledge in the retail sector has been invaluable.’
The Big Issue
North London Collegiate School
TLT’s team advises franchisors on franchising projects and a variety of international franchising issues. Sitting in the firm’s commercial department, the franchising offering is fronted by Manchester-based Pauline Cowie, who primarily acts for clients in the automotive, retail and hotel and leisure sectors.
At Travers Smith LLP, the team, under Dan Reavill’s leadership, advises high-profile brands on franchising matters in the restaurant, hospitality, leisure, retail and fashion sectors. The department draws from the firm’s international network, allowing it to assist clients with the cross-border components of transactions and agreements related to franchising issues including brand licensings, IT arrangements, and supply and logistics contracts.
BKUK (master franchisee of the Burger King brand)
- Advised homeware and fashion retailer client Laura Ashley on its extensive portfolio of global master licensing and franchise arrangements, including in the context of the sale of the Laura Ashley brand.
- Advising BKUK Group on its day-to-day franchising requirements, following Royale Holdco’s (now BKUK Group) successful acquisition of the master franchise rights to the Burger King brand in the UK in late 2017.
- Advised fashion brand Manolo Blahnik on the renegotiation of the terms of its US franchise.