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Tesco names BLP as ‘go-to’ real estate adviser following review

In a welcome respite from a run of bad news recently, Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) has been confirmed as Tesco‘s lead counsel for real estate following a review of the supermarket’s property advisers.

Tesco general counsel Adrian Morris (pictured) has streamlined its legal advisors for real estate, dropping long-time advisor Ashurst from its panel, with BLP taking on the bulk of property work across England and Wales in what is an endorsement of the strength of its signature practice area and an early success for its new low-cost Manchester office. The firm will service Tesco out of the Manchester base, offering lower chargeout rates than London.

The change comes as the supermarket giant expects a slowdown in real estate mandates over the next coming months on the back of fewer store openings.

Morris told Legal Business : ‘We said over a year ago it was the end of the “space race” in UK retail. We are making significant investments in multichannel retail and our legal requirements are evolving. Volumes of real estate legal work are declining and we needed a new model.

‘BLP has been our most established relationship and its offering in Manchester gives us an opportunity to get quality service on real estate at a regional cost base. It was the logical thing to do.’

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer will continue to advise on Tesco’s corporate and commercial matters, while Squire Sanders and Hill Dickinson will continue to provide employment and insurance advice respectively.

Morris joined Tesco from BP in September 2012 and was named as one of the top 100 GC’s in Legal Business’ GC Powerlist in 2013. His legal team includes around 200 lawyers and external advisers also include Allen & Overy and DLA Piper in addition to Freshfields, Ashurst and BLP.