International law firm Eversheds has been appointed as the sole legal adviser to retail giant Comet to provide support on all its legal matters for the next three years.
Eversheds, which has its Birmingham office on Colmore Row, won the competitive tender for the company against a number of other national firms.
Comet Group, which is a subsidiary of European firm Kesa Electricals, has more than 250 stores in the UK, employs approximately 10,000 people and is one of the country’s leading specialist electrical retailers. The sole adviser contract is a boost for Eversheds, which had previously worked with Comet for a number of years.
Sue Lewis, the senior office partner at Eversheds in Birmingham, said: “This is a significant win for Eversheds and further reinforces our capabilities as a leading law firm in the retail sector. We have had a close relationship with Comet for several years, working primarily on employment and commercial matters.
“Our remit as a sole advisor will be extended to include all other areas of legal work including estates, intellectual property and branding issues. We look forward to building on our existing relationship and working closely alongside their in-house team to meet the needs of the business.”
Richard Annett, general counsel at Comet, added: “It was time for us to find a firm who could look after all of our legal requirements, while providing us with certainty, control and value for money. We had an existing relationship with a number of firms, but we were particularly impressed by Eversheds’ retail expertise, project management skills and client commitment.
“We therefore made the decision to move our legal work to a single provider which would be well placed to meet our strategic requirements.”
The appointment comes as Comet faces one of the most difficult times in its history. Last month the electricals chain became just the latest big retailer to have its credit insurance scaled back as the impact of the financial crisis and collapse in consumer confidence continued.
The reduction of insurance cover on Comet by Coface – one of the UK’s biggest credit insurers – was an illustration of how nervous analysts are over the prospects for retailers in the current economic climate.
The credit insurance cut-back, which came shortly after a similar move by the insurers of electrical retail competitor DSG, showed even the multinational chains were not immune to the downturn in demand.
Electricals chains have been among the worst affected by the consumer recession, as the freeze in the housing market means shoppers have sharply cut back on purchases of washing machines, fridges and televisions, among other goods.
In September, Kesa Electricals said it expected Comet to post a loss over the six months to October. And in the three months to July 31, Comet’s like-for-like sales plummeted by 9.9 per cent.