Retail continues to be the UK’s largest private sector employer, responsible for over 2.9 million jobs. But faced with ever-reducing profit margins, many retailers are having to take decisive action to streamline their operations and reduce staff costs, in head office, distribution centres and on the shop floor.

Retailers are also looking at more innovative ways of working. Just under half of all retail employees work part-time. Retailers employ staff across all ages, from school leavers to the semi-retired, and as such are at the frontline when it comes to new employment legislation, trends and issues.

Our team of highly experienced employment lawyers has significant expertise in advising on all aspects of retail employment law. Indeed, our team has a long and distinguished history in advising retail clients: we acted in the 1970s for British Home Stores in the seminal case of British Home Stores v Burchell, one of the cornerstones of UK employment case law.

We also understand the pressures that retailers currently face. New employment legislation often has cost implications for retailers, so we work closely with them to minimise its impact.

Operating from offices in London and Manchester, our team services retail clients across the country, providing clear and practical legal advice and support. We invest time in your business to ensure that we fully understand your brand and help you find solutions to employment issues.

We assist clients with the full range of employee relation matters, including sickness, disciplinary and grievance matters, discrimination issues, terminations and compromise agreements.

We also advise on restructuring projects, outsourcings, business transfers, service provision changes and implementing changes to terms and conditions. In addition, we have significant expertise in advising at every stage of the litigation process.

Notable deals / highlights

  • Advised a large national retailer on its redundancy programme affecting employees in its distribution business, involving negotiations with trade unions and associated collective consultations. We also continue to provide advice in relation to the derecognition of one of its recognised trade unions and in relation to ongoing industrial relations matters. 
  • Provided a ‘hotline’ advice service to a national high street retailer, dealing with shop floor and head office issues, and successfully defended a number of claims for that retailer before the Employment Tribunals.

  • Advised a major retailer on the TUPE and other employment aspects of its acquisition by another major retailer, including in relation to collective consultation obligations and changes to the terms and conditions of affected employees. We also advise on tribunal litigation on a variety of issues, including disability discrimination.

  • Advised a high street retailer on its employee relations issues including redundancies, the handling of grievance and disciplinary issues, senior-level terminations, compromise agreements, contract and policy issues and discrimination issues. This involves both advisory and drafting work as well as contentious employment tribunal and high court litigation work.

  • Provided start-up employment advice and ongoing HR support to several overseas retailers as they expand their operations into the UK.

Sector spotlight