Magic circle duo advise as Tesco checks out of garden centre business

Slaughter and May and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer have landed the lead roles as Tesco sells off Dobbies Garden Centres to a group of investors for £217m.

The sale forms part of Tesco’s ongoing efforts to focus its business on its core grocery retail brand. Its coffee shop business Harris + Hoole is also expected to be sold in the future.

Dobbies has been bought by a consortium of investors led by investor groups Midlothian Capital Partners and Hattington Capital.

Freshfields advised Tesco on the sale of Dobbies, with a team led by the head of its retail sector group, Claire Wills.

Wills also advised Tesco on its disposal of Korean business, Homeplus, in September 2015. On that occasion, she worked alongside London corporate partner Alison Smith and Asia corporate partner Simon Weller. Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton represented the consortium of Korean investors buying the business.

Freshfields was also drafted in by Tesco, alongside Deloitte, in 2014 to review accounting failings that led to the supermarket chain overstating its profit forecasts for the first half of 2014 by an estimated £250m.

Slaughters advised the investors buying Dobbies with a team in London, including corporate partner Robert Stern, M&A partner Murray Cox, head of debt capital markets Matthew Tobin and real estate partner Jane Edwarde.

Slaughters has previously advised Midlothian and Hattington on deals.

Fladgate also advised the investors, with a team including head of corporate Grant Gordon and corporate M&A partner Amy Collins.

Tesco has been offloading some of its assets following a tough few years for the retailer in light of the discovery of its accounting issues.

Berwin Leighton Paisner advised Tesco on the sale of a portfolio of development sites for £250m in October last year, with a team in London led by real estate partners Justine Oldale and Sunita Chawla, alongside associate director Iain Suttie.

Linklaters advised real estate investment manager Meyer Bergman, which bought the sites, with a London-based team led by real estate partner Simon Price, alongside planning partner David Watkins and construction counsel Paul Wilson.