Clydes and Eversheds eat up spots on Yum! panel

Clyde & Co and Eversheds will advise Yum! Brands, the company behind Pizza Hut and KFC, for the first time having been appointed as part of a new eight-firm panel in the UK.

The firms will be joined on the panel by HowardKennedyFsi, Squire Sanders and Collins Dryland & Thorowgood, which will advise on real estate work; Solihull-based Whiting & Purches took the mandate to advise on health and safety and food; Leeds-based Woods Whur will advise on licensing work after it acted for KFC for the first time last year; Wright Hassell will advise on immigration matters; and Burness Paull has been appointed for Scotland.

Eversheds will provide real estate and employment advice while Clyde & Co has been appointed to advise on general commercial issues and litigation.

Linklaters did not take a panel place despite advising on the sell-off of 330 Pizza Hut restaurants to restructuring investor Rutland Partners in November 2012, under a franchise agreement to help turn the businesses around. It is not known whether the firm applied for a spot.

The panel review kicked off in September and completed in early December. The new roster will remain in place for an initial two-year period.

Yum! Brands legal director Sarah Nelson Smith reviewed the informal roster of firms for the UK and Scotland with the aim of cutting legal spend and mencouraging the use of fixed fee arrangement as well as value-added services offered by firms with formal panel positions.

Nelson Smith said: “There were various areas, for example in real estate, where fees had increased year-on-year which in the rest of the market wasn’t normal. So we looked for capped and fixed fees where they were available.”

She added that as well as the review significantly reducing legal spend, the pitch process increased the businesses understanding of its working relationships with firms that it had used for many years.

“We asked about billing and fees but when we approached the firms we already assumed that they were good at what they do, what we really wanted to find out was whether they understood the company culture,” Nelson Smith said.

To do this firms were assessed not only on the usual criteria of relevant experience, value-add and knowledge of the market but, more unusually, were asked to make recommendations of innovations for KFC or Pizza Hut products and to share the most valuable piece of advice they had been given.

Some of Nelson Smith’s favourite answers to the latter question included the relatively apt: “When life gives you lemons, find the tequila and salt!” and, “You were born with two ears and one mouth – use them in proportion”.

Nelson Smith has been legal director at Yum! since October 2012, having joined as legal counsel in May 2011. She is joined in the UK legal team by a legal counsel and a legal contracts manager, which said is enabling the company to keep more work in-house.

Having completed the panel review, Yum! is also soon to be joined in-house by secondees from Squire Sanders, HKFsi and Eversheds.