Shoosmiths has taken the place of Dechert on the WHSmiths property panel after beating competition from eight other firms in a major review
Dechert joins existing provider Manches in a two-way partnership. The work includes property acquisitions, disposals, property litigation and property management. The stationery retailer revealed plans late last year to increase its number of outlets in the UK by 120 to around 820 by December 2004. The review was led by WHSmiths' head of property and head of acquisitions and disposals and started with non-written presentations from nine firms. Six firms were then selected to submit a written proposal. The Shoosmiths team included property partner Deborah Gordon Brown, who will manage the relationship, head of commercial property Nigel Haynes and solicitor Sonita Robertson. The client win makes a good addition to Shoosmiths' retail practice, best known for its long relationship with Boots. Haynes said: "It's a joint appointment which is increasingly common and it will involve a division of work based on consultation. It's a very good way of making sure the performance of both firms is maintained. Each firm keeps the other up to the mark and you can jointly develop systems to improve the service." Haynes said that the three-month selection process was one of the best-run tenders he had experienced. "They were scrupulous about the timetable and they communicated superbly with us," he said. "We do a lot of tenders and often you're kept completely in the dark."