MFI reviews legal panel to save £5m in adviser fees

MFI is pursuing a major review of its external legal advisers as the FTSE 250 furniture retailer moves to slash professional advisory fees by at least £5m.

The retailer’s sole in-house lawyer Adrian Thurston confirmed to The Lawyer that MFI is keen to consolidate its advisers in the hope that it can strike a deal on fees.

“There’s nothing wrong with the quality of service we’re getting,” he said. “We want to reduce MFI’s legal spend as much as possible without sacrificing quality. With legal spend, every little helps.”
MFI’s annual external legal spend is understood to be between £1m and £1.5m.

Currently, MFI uses Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer as its main corporate adviser, although the retailer also instructs at least 15 other firms, including Charles Russell, DLA, Kilpatrick Stockton and Wragge & Co.

Although the review is still at a very early stage, MFI is hoping to invite firms to offer proposals in the new year. However, Thurston said he was doubtful whether firms that currently do not have a relationship with MFI would be invited to participate in the exercise.

As part of the review, Thurston is also exploring the possibility of boosting MFI’s legal team so that more legal work can be handled in-house. “We generate enough work to justify recruiting another lawyer, but again it’s driven by cost,” he said.

MFI is also hoping to cut the amount it spends on auditor and broker fees.