Addleshaw Goddard wins first corporate work for J Sainsbury

Addleshaw Goddard has strengthened its relationship with J Sainsbury, scooping major corporate instructions from the supermarket giant for the first time. The firm is advising on a joint venture with Shell UK and also on the disposal of J Sainsbury Developments (JSD).

Sainsbury’s has a longstanding relationship with legacy firm Addleshaw Booth & Co on property work, but historically these types of deals have been the preserve of the company’s primary corporate adviser Denton Wilde Sapte, while large-scale M&A work has gone to Linklaters.

Last week, the food retailer announced a major joint venture with Shell, which the legacy Addleshaws firm has been working on since the beginning of the year. Dentons is also advising, but only on competition and procurement aspects of the deal. Shell’s in-house legal department worked on the commercial aspects of the deal, but instructed Slaughter and May on the property issues.

Addleshaw Goddard corporate partner Stephen Houston is leading on the deal, which will see Sainsbury’s expand its fuel and convenience store operation to 100 existing Shell forecourts across the UK. The move follows a successful trial at six sites, combining Shell’s branded forecourts and Sainsbury’s ‘Local’ store format.

Property partner Lucy Sturrock said that Addleshaws won the mandate for the Shell work because of the firm’s ongoing involvement in the property-related aspects of Sainsbury’s Local stores acquisition programme.

“As a firm, we have a strong reputation in the retail sector and currently advise Sainsbury’s on its national ‘Local’ acquisition programme; but this deal holds special significance, being out first major commercial venture for the company,” she said.

Houston, who moved down to Addleshaws’ London office last autumn to bolster the firm’s City corporate practice and to target FTSE-350 companies, said: “I moved to London eight months ago and the fact that we’re advising Sainsbury’s on two major commercial deals is proof of the pudding.”

Sainsbury’s announced in February that it planned to sell JSD, which had a book value of £141m. Addleshaws was appointed to advise on the disposal after pitching for the work against other firms on the panel, which included CMS Cameron McKenna, Lawrence Graham and SJ Berwin, in addition to Dentons and Linklaters. The deal was led by Sainsbury’s relationship partner Derek Tolley.