Our cross-practice team focusing on retail and consumer goods gathers experts with years of experience in key practice areas and a specific expertise in the retail sector; offering a full-service support to clients in this evolving sector.
Distribution methods have changed. Traditional intermediaries (dealers, franchise holders, agents) are becoming more hybrid in order to adapt to market evolutions and the increasing need for financial security and control of the distribution network. New technologies, and automation have also greatly impacted modern product distribution processes.
The law being often two steps behind, it is a challenge to be innovative in commercial contracts and to be compliant with constantly evolving competition and employment law.
Brick and mortar shops have evolved to co-exist, today more than ever, with online sales and outlet stores serve as showcase for one or more brands. Securing or creating strategic locations through lease, franchising or investment has become an essential aspect of distribution. Our real estate and regulatory experts assist clients with all phases: permits, financing, construction, lease or other occupancy contracts.
There is no retail activity without brands. Our Intellectual Property experts assist with building and protecting brand image.
Consumer protection remains a priority for European and national decision makers. We can draw on our vast experience in marketing and advertising and trade practices. We give clients constructive advice on their ideas to attract customers.
Product safety, product recall, crisis management and related dispute resolution require clients to have a prior strategy in place, as well as to be able to react quickly. Our team frequently assists with these issues and is proud to have defused potential threats on numerous occasions.
Liedekerke offers a multi-disciplinary team, highly experienced and involving lawyers from our commercial contracts and litigation, IP/IT, real estate, corporate, environment, competition, and banking and finance practices: it enables us to offer full-service support to clients from all corners of the industry, such as distributors (dealers, franchise holders, agents), outlet stores, retailers, real estate developers or investors.
Our Relevant Experience
Relevant experience in relation to distribution networks:
Drafting of (master) franchising agreements with retailers in various sectors such as consumer electronics, clothing, restaurant chains, hotels, optics
Acting for manufacturers of consumer products in the termination of exclusive distribution agreements in the Benelux
Acting for a sporting goods manufacturer in disputes on the characterization of its retailer network as a franchising network
Setting up commercial agents’ networks in relation to various consumer products such as cosmetics and underwear
Drafting consignment sale agreements between clothing manufacturers and retailers
Assistance to food manufacturers regarding the insolvency risk of commercial intermediaries distributing the products to supermarkets
Assisting a clothing manufacturer in negotiating consignment and commission agent contracts with department stores
Assisting one of the world’s largest jewelry companies in remodeling its distribution network from resale to selective distribution, and assisting Pandora against claims as a consequence thereof
Drafting of outlet management contracts and franchising contracts for a chain of opticians
Dealing with the risk of outlet management and franchising contracts being characterized as employment contracts
Assisting manufacturers in competition law issues in relation to exclusivity and retail pricing in distribution networks
Assisting a cosmetics manufacturer in acquiring its exclusive distributor and reform its distribution strategy
Assisting importers regarding disputes with local intermediaries on goodwill and goodwill indemnities
Some relevant experience in relation to retail malls and outlets:
Representing the Decathlon and Colruyt retail groups in securing planning and environmental permits, for new commercial sites
Advising IKEA on all real estate aspects of its expansion in Belgium for more than 25 years
Advising LIDL in all their expansion in Belgium for almost 10 years
Advising a brand retailer in the development of a flagship store – green building (award winning project) in Brussels
Assisting a joint venture between French developer and French investment fund in structuring and developing one of the major Belgian outlet malls in the Walloon region
Assisting on contracts for co-branding or multiconcept outlets
Assistance to AG Real Estate in the negotiations with the tenants in the context of the redevelopment of the shopping malls City 2 and Westland
Assisting a real estate investment company with the redevelopment of its shopping centre, a large mixed-use project comprising a new shopping centre, private and public housing, underground parking spaces, public roads and facilities,
Some relevant experience in relation to products:
Assisting a Belgian chemical company, in a lawsuit initiated by individuals in compensation for damage allegedly caused by a defect chemical product supposedly manufactured by the client
Assisting manufacturer in home appliances regarding product safety and potential product recall issues
Assisting manufacturers in the automotive, food and the home appliances industries regarding product safety and potential product recall issues
Assisting a manufacturer of defective medical flasks in recall, production stop and relations with intermediaries and customers.
Supporting a manufacturer in the automotive industry in relation to claims caused by a defective raw material batch and in successfully dealing with a product recall threat
Assisting a prominent sporting goods retailer in relation to massive recall of bikes, including litigation with its supplier and manufacturer
Negotiating the settlement of a major product liability claim between a Belgian food manufacturer and its liability insurer
Assisting a manufacturer in product liability proceedings in the pharmaceutical supplies industry
Some relevant experience in relation to marketing and advertising
Validating client marketing projects in various retailing activities
Assisting companies in preliminary references before the European Court of Justice in various areas, including in the area of unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices and advertising issues
Drafting contracts for multimedia marketing in a perfume retailer network
Assisting manufacturers and retailers in relation to consumer protection regulations such as rebates
Assisting a shaving products manufacturer in developing a hybrid distribution and merchandising network including online sales, marketing through social media and cross-selling marketing with selected clothing retailers
Drafting contracts on field marketing and promotional data processing for large scale consumer goods manufacturers
Some relevant experience in relation to transactions and litigation
Assisting a major department store operator in its €2 million damages claim against a Belgian association and a federation of fashion retailers as well as in relation to the termination of a partnership /demonstration agreement and in relation to the 96k€ claim introduced by a former manager of the department store
Assisting a family-owned retail corporation with several acquisitions
Assisting Grand Opticiens with the transfer of 35 shops of the Grand Optical brand to a potential buyer
Assisting a major international retail player in the context of the sale of land bordering the retail park of one of its sites
Assisting a Belgium-based retail company with the winding up of its business activities and on related issues regarding directors’ duties and liabilities
Assisting a major consumer goods player with employment matters and in particular with various disputes and dismissals
Assisting the Belgian subsidiary of a large international retail group with proceedings related to alleged unfair commercial practices and unfair terms in their b2b contracts with suppliers
Assisting several famous Belgian department store chains and international retailers with trademark infringement disputes
Awards & Recognition
‘The Liedekerke Wolters Waelbroeck Kirkpatrick team has a great approach and a strong knowledge of the wider issues in the retail market. They have a strong practice and are problem solvers. Indeed, this is not only providing standard solutions but looking for alternatives.’
‘Pierre Desenfans, tax partner, is a top expert in the real estate retail sector.’
Legal 500, Industry focus - Retail, Tier 1, 2022
‘We trust the team and they deliver high quality work. They are fast, responsive and give straightforward advice.’
‘Olivier Vanden Berghe is a skilled and experienced lawyer; he is very commercially oriented and finds the best solution for the client.’
‘Yves Delacroix is the best real estate lawyer for the retail sector I have dealt with. He is highly knowledgeable of the subject matter and a superb litigator.’