Retailers are changing almost every aspect of the way they do business. They face new competitors and new forms of competition every day. Brick-and-mortar stores must revise their business model to respond to the squeeze of e-commerce. Retailers of every type and size must adapt their systems of distribution and logistics to meet changing consumer demands – including expectations for faster, safer, and less expensive delivery.

Merchants must rely more and more on consumer data to make strategic business decisions while navigating a host of privacy and other consumer protection laws. And they must implement effective safeguards against increasingly sophisticated cybersecurity threats.

On the financial front, businesses must respond to the challenges posed by bankruptcies and restructurings, as well as the opportunities posed by private equity financing. And retailers are in the vanguard in adopting blockchain technology, which lets consumers and suppliers connect directly, eliminating the need for an intermediary to complete transactions.

Retailers who can navigate these changes are the ones most likely to survive and thrive. Bradley’s Retail Industry team helps them do just that. Our lawyers provide clients with a full range of legal services to drive innovation, increase efficiencies, implement new technologies, develop and manage compliance programs, and reduce risk – all with an eye toward improving the bottom line.

Our lawyers work with clients of all sizes, from Fortune 500 companies to privately owned regional and local businesses. Our clients offer every type of product and service – from groceries to consumer electronics, from hardware to sporting goods, from clothing to home appliances, and from restaurants to blow-dry bars. We understand each client’s business and the unique challenges and opportunities each client faces, and we tailor our advice to fit those needs.     

Bradley’s Retail Industry team works in lockstep with our Franchise and Distribution team and our Food, Beverage and Hospitality team. Together, our lawyers offer an extraordinarily deep bench of experience and expertise to provide comprehensive counsel on the legal challenges and opportunities that retailers face every day.

We help clients navigate food safety laws and alcohol licensing regulations, as well as draft and negotiate contracts with distributors and vendors. We address labor and employment disputes and employee benefits issues, and review and advise on advertising campaigns, product packaging, and signage.

Our team also counsels clients on economic development and tax issues, and helps protect all forms of intellectual property, from trademarks and copyrights to patents and trade secrets. When disputes arise, Bradley helps clients achieve their business goals as efficiently as possible – whether that means trying a case in a courtroom or negotiating a business resolution in a boardroom.     

Our legal service offerings for retailers include:

Our M&A lawyers have the depth of knowledge and insight to ensure an efficient deal process that delivers solutions to the most complex issues. We represent clients in stock and asset purchases and sales, mergers, divestitures, joint ventures, and other transactions. Our corporate lawyers understand the retail market and help clients assess risks and opportunities. From start-ups to large, high-profile corporations, our lawyers can initiate and formalize a corporate structure, advise on business strategies throughout the life of an enterprise, and negotiate critical transactions.

Bradley advises both public and private companies in dealing with the complexities of securities laws and corporate governance. We work with clients to structure offerings that advance their goals while remaining in compliance with complex, constantly changing laws and regulations. In the retail sector, our lawyers handle the full range of private equity transactions and help clients make connections that grow out of the firm’s extensive network of contacts in the industry. We tap the additional expertise of our Food, Beverage and Hospitality team and our Franchise and Distribution team to provide due diligence for private equity and other financings.

Our real estate lawyers have earned a reputation for solving problems and closing deals. Deeply embedded in the real estate industry, we serve every sector of the market – in acquisitions, leasing, financing, construction, regulatory, tax and other matters. Our zoning and land use lawyers have decades of experience in successfully advocating for clients’ interests in the full range of planning and compliance matters. They are known for advancing matters smoothly and quickly through the regulatory process.

Our Intellectual Property team works with clients to secure and defend their most valuable asset, their intellectual property. We help retailers guard their critical market share and positioning through the development, acquisition, licensing, and commercialization of trademarks, copyrights, and patents. Our IP team is at the vanguard of the constantly changing field of trade secret protection, as technology and connectivity make it easier than ever to transmit confidential and proprietary information. We defend and enforce IP rights in courts across the country, as well as in administrative tribunals. We also help retailers manage the risks of creating and selling their own brands, from negotiating private-label agreements to managing relationships with suppliers to steering clear of “borrowing” a concept too closely.

As retailers’ methods of gaining and keeping customers continue to evolve, it has become more challenging than ever to comply with state and federal laws, regulations and industry guidelines for advertising, marketing and promotion. Our team helps clients understand and stay current with the myriad requirements in this rapidly changing field. We counsel retailers that are finding new ways to leverage the power of social media as a marketing tool, helping them avoid pitfalls and develop robust, up-to-the-minute social media policies and strategies. We also help retailers minimize their risks when using data to gain a competitive advantage in marketing and advertising, through geolocation, tracking of online activity, and other techniques.

With the rapid growth of the digital marketplace, e-commerce has assumed huge significance for the retail sector. While e-commerce technologies are integral to companies trying to stay ahead of the competition, they also pose risks, particularly as laws attempt to catch up with the realities of business. Bradley has been at the forefront of e-commerce since its inception. We offer clients comprehensive counsel for all types of e-commerce, from consumer sales to auctioning to business-to-business transactions.

As our retail clients collect and use ever-increasing volumes of consumer data, we offer strategic counsel on how to safeguard information throughout the data management lifecycle, comply with state and federal laws and regulations and industry standards – as well as with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – and handle a host of new challenges related to privacy and the Internet of Things. Our lawyers routinely advise on the legal implications of emerging technologies such as blockchain, machine learning and data analytics. On the cybersecurity front, our work with retail clients ranges from designing and implementing comprehensive risk-based information security programs to guiding clients through responding to data breaches.

Bankruptcy filings allow retailers to restructure their debt, close underperforming stores, and, in some cases, sell their business assets to new owners. These bankruptcies pose legal issues for retailers, vendors, lenders, landlords, prospective buyers, and customers as well. In this environment, the need for counsel well versed in the nuances of bankruptcy law is more important than ever. Our lawyers are experienced in all aspects of retail-related bankruptcies and out-of-court restructurings. We help clients in the retail space navigate legal issues ranging from the assumption and rejection of leases to preference defense to going-out-of-business sales to the treatment of gift cards and other customer incentives.

We work hard to keep our retail clients out of court, by anticipating problems and developing strategies to resolve them as quickly and efficiently as possible. But when lawsuits cannot be avoided, our lawyers are skilled fighters in the trenches, ready to deliver the premier advocacy that our retail clients expect at the value they demand. We have earned a reputation as leaders in class action defense, an area critical to retailers faced with threats of legal actions in areas such as data privacy and security, discount pricing, non-poaching agreements, joint employer claims, marketing practices, and gift card programs. With a deep bench of experienced trial lawyers who understand the stakes in every case they litigate, we help our retail clients balance their litigation risks against their business goals. 

With tens of millions of workers in hundreds of different occupations, the retail sector faces daunting challenges, including collective bargaining agreements, wage and hour compliance, immigration issues, workplace safety and health, and discrimination and harassment claims – among many others. Our lawyers help retailers meet the needs of a constantly evolving workforce and find practical and creative solutions to the industry’s most vexing labor and employment issues.

We work with executives, in-house counsel and human resources personnel to design and implement employee benefit packages, including retirement and health and welfare plans, incentive programs, and bonuses, as well as severance packages.

As private-label brands have become a more and more important segment of retailers’ business, product safety has become a bigger risk. To navigate the often complex and onerous web of product safety laws and regulations affecting retailers, our lawyers stay well versed on the latest developments and enforcement priorities at the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and at these entities’ state and international counterparts as well. We help clients anticipate and respond to compliance and reporting issues, avoid enforcement actions wherever possible, and minimize the damage and disruption to business when events such as recalls occur.

Our lawyers help retailers comply with a host of federal, state and local environmental laws and regulations covering a host of activities – from transporting and storing lithium batteries to monitoring volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in their products to disposing hazardous waste. Our environmental lawyers handle knotty enforcement issues and provide sound, pragmatic advice on transactional matters. We develop solutions for clients that meet both their immediate needs and their long-term goals.

Bradley stays abreast of the constantly shifting tax landscape for retailers. We advise on how retailers and state authorities are responding to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Wayfair v. South Dakota, which may require internet retailers to collect sales and use tax on consumer purchases even in states where the retailers lack a physical presence. We also help our retail clients with all aspects of federal, state and local tax laws. Our team counsels clients on tax issues related to private-label credit cards and escheat issues related to gift cards. When disputes arise, we represent retail clients at all administrative levels, from audit through appeal, as well as in the courts.

When a crisis occurs that forces a business interruption, causes property damage, or leads to a product recall, we help retailers and other corporate policyholders recover insurance proceeds in disputed claims, coverage litigation matters, and adversary proceedings. Our lawyers are experienced at developing forensic resources to support these claims and using arbitration, mediation, informal negotiation, and litigation, if necessary, to maximize recovery for our retail clients. We rely on decades of insight and claims history with a variety of commercial insurance products, including property, casualty, commercial liability, cyber, throughput, inland marine, fidelity, and products liability, to counsel clients not only when a crisis occurs, but when they evaluate which insurance and risk-based products are best suited to their needs. 

Our lawyers are known for providing creative, proactive and multidisciplinary approaches to retail projects throughout the country. We assist clients not only with identifying and implementing economic development incentives, but also with real estate, tax, governmental, planning and zoning, environmental, permitting, financing, labor and employment, and construction issues. Our Governmental Affairs Practice Group includes veteran local, state and federal policymakers who are skilled at helping retail clients develop and execute results-oriented government relations strategies.