West End firm Finers Stephens Innocent is taking over niche retail property practice Nathan Silman, scooping clients that include Our Price, Virgin Retail and Adecco.
Finers Stephens carried out a strategic review last year and identified retail property as an area in which it wanted to develop. It already acts for high street names in the sector, including Pizza Hut, Aroma, LA Fitness and Cartier.
Nathan Silman is a four-partner firm, with two of the partners joining Finers Stephens as partners and the two founders, Michael Nathan and Geoffrey Silman, joining as consultants. The two new partners are Stephen Lewis and Nicola Kravitz, who double the number of partners in Finers Stephens’ retail property group.
Finers Stephens senior partner Peter Jay says: “Part of our strategy for the property department is to grow construction, development, investment and retail. We made some enquiries, and this group was looking because they realised that their clients needed more resources that they could provide.”
The addition of Virgin Retail to the firm’s client base is a particular boon. The Virgin Group is currently reviewing its panel, with announcements of chosen firms expected in the next few weeks (The Lawyer, 29 January).
Lewis says: “We currently do all of the Our Price/V-Shop property work and some work for Virgin Retail, but we currently don’t do any other work for them. Everyone we’ve spoken to there has been very positive to the move – it’s a personal business today anyway, and the clients are loyal to the people that do their work.”
He says that he hopes to be able to build on current client relationships so as to cross-sell Finers Stephens’ broader corporate and commercial practices. “A lot of our clients have been saying to us for some time that they felt we needed to have a better tax capability, for example,” he says.
Jay says that Finers Stephens has chosen retail property as a strategic area for the firm because of its relative stability as a market.
“We found in the early 1990s, when the property market went quiet, that retail work was countercyclical,” he says.
“If you work for the right retailers they’ll stay busy – and if the market goes quiet they tend to stay busy because they’re opportunistic and pick up units cheap.”