Sainsbury's kicks off first panel review since Home Retail Group acquisition

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Sainsbury’s is set to overhaul its legal panel in a move that is expected to see the supermarket chain create a combined roster that also covers its recent Home Retail Group acquisition.

The review, which is being led by head of legal services Nick Grant, comes three years after the store last reviewed its panel. It is expected to result in a combined roster for Sainsbury’s and Home Retail Group, but will not cover Sainsbury’s’ banking activities.

Twelve firms made the grade when Sainsbury’s last reviewed its panel in 2014, with King & Wood Mallesons and TLT winning first-time appointments alongside firms including Linklaters, CMS Cameron McKenna, Addleshaw Goddard, Dentons, DWF and legacy Wragge Lawrence Graham.

The retailer completed its acquisition of Home Retail Group – which owns Argos and Habitat – in September, a deal that saw Clifford Chance advise Sainbury’s and Linklaters advise Home Retail Group.

A partner at a panel firm said: “Sainbsury’s in itself is huge – just doing Sainsbury’s is a big attention-getter, but it’s an even bigger prize if it’s Argos as well.”

Another added: “I think it’s going to be a straight Sainsbury’s process with a wider portfolio; there were a number of overlaps between Argos and Sainsbury’s – Dentons, Linklaters and Addleshaws all worked for both.

“There will probably be some falling out of the mix on smaller firms – I don’t think it will be a surprise to people that Sainsbury’s [is] looking for a slightly wider portfolio of skills in some areas.”

A Sainsbury’s spokesperson said: “We carry out a panel review every three years as part of our normal processes.”

Sainsbury’s last review – which was run by Clare Russell and Paul Jenkinson from the in-house legal team, together with Phil Sykes from the procurement team – focused on continued cost management. Firms were asked to demonstrate value for money and a willingness to work collaboratively with in-house teams to deliver legal services to the business.