Legal Business

Associated British Foods

  • Director of legal services and company secretary: Paul Lister.
  • Team headcount: 45 lawyers

Associated British Foods (ABF)’s profile has been achieved despite it running a lean team for a £13bn multinational. The team consists of 45 lawyers across 47 countries worldwide involved in a wide range of activities from retail to manufacturing. Its director of legal services, Paul Lister, comments: ‘I like to keep a tight team, because the tighter you are, the more opportunity you’ve got for internal growth.’

Daniel Hudson, a disputes partner at Herbert Smith Freehills, is impressed: ‘This well-organised and committed team has a broad understanding of the relevant commercial and other issues for ABF’s various global businesses as well as a sound grasp of the legal issues in play.’

In 2014 the team, which has household names such as Primark and Twinings in its remit, has taken innovative steps towards cost reduction, undertaking a project that analyses the department’s spend by country, subject matter, instructing counsel and law firm globally, and establishes where savings are best made. Major upcoming mandates for the team include taking Primark to the US market with the opening of a high-profile store in central Boston at the end of 2015.

Lister’s style of management is admired by his peers in the retail industry. Mark Amsden, general counsel (GC) and company secretary of supermarket chain Morrisons, says: ‘Paul Lister is a great bloke – he is really sensible, a good leader and empowers his team really well.’