Food and drink

So much of our lives are experienced and remembered through food and drink. From families sharing meals at home to foodies sharing exciting restaurant dishes on Instagram, we attach a lot of meaning to what we eat and drink – which makes this a very special business to be in.

Perhaps that is why so many brands in the sector are still owned by individuals and families. They pass their passion and know-how down the generations, and are rewarded with a place in their customers’ hearts. ‘Consumers are more ready to trust businesses like ours,’ says Francesco Zonin, whose family have been vintners since 1821 and today export tens of millions of bottles of prosecco each year. ‘We’re seen as genuine and authentic.’

Anything this personal will present challenges. It’s especially important for you as a food and beverage company to establish a strong brand and protect it robustly. You need to comply with regulations covering health and safety, labelling and certificates of origin. And as your business grows, you may be subject to import/export tariffs and international trade agreements.

Advisors who know your industry

We look after the interests of food and drink brands around the world, combining our legal knowledge with an understanding of the sector in which you operate. This enables us to give reliable, cost-effective advice at every stage of your business journey.

Our experience spans commercial agreements, intellectual property, regulatory, tax and real estate. We assisted a group of investors in acquiring the largest wine estate in Tuscany, and advised a Middle Eastern specialty food start-up on how to protect its brand and its profits as it expanded into the US. We’ve also been on hand as Soho House & Co expands its offering from private members’ clubs into stylish restaurant brands including Pizza East and Chicken Shop.

Good taste

With a long heritage in acting for successful people and families, we offer personal service to every food and drink client. Whether you are a cottage industry or a multinational conglomerate, wherever you are in the world, our team offer solid, savvy advice that will keep you in business for many more years to come.

For further help or information

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Italy adopts new measures for food and beverage sector


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Recognition

Leading firm in commerical, corporate M&A, dispute resolution, tax, industry focus - food, luxury goods

Clients

‘‘

The team was readily available and attentive to our needs, and we particularly appreciated their professionalism and competence.

Italia del Gusto
‘‘

Withers take not just a commercial point of view but an entrepreneurial one too by standing in the clothes of their clients and seeing things from our point of view.

Iqbal Wahhab - Roast Restaurant
‘‘

Italy practice managing partner Roberta Crivellaro has extensive expertise in the food and beverage sector. Milan-based Luca Ferrari advises major Italian wine producers and exporters.

Legal 500 EMEA, 2017
‘‘

We have worked hard to create something special and poured a lot of love into the reputation and brand that we have created. We have always appreciated Celia and Withers’ support in protecting this thing that we hold very emotionally and financially precious and for their advice in challenging times.

Flat Iron Steak

Meet the team

How we can help

Track record

Two food entrepreneurs

We used our experience of working with entrepreneurs to help the founders of a food business providing goods to UK high-street retailers as they sold their company. Our lawyers assisted with the commercial aspects of the sale to a private equity firm, handling complex UK remittance tax issues and US tax issues. We were also involved in our clients’ reinvestment in a new holding company.

A household name UK supermarket

With much of our history focused on acting for successful individuals, families and entrepreneurs, we are not afraid to go up against large financial institutions. In one complex case, we acted against one of the largest UK banks in a dispute relating to a loan for the development of a household name supermarket, and the use of an interest rate swap to ‘hedge’ the loan.

Newlat

Italian company Newlat specialises in distribution for the agro-food sector, offering a large point of sale network across Italy and further abroad. Withers offered advice to Netlat to assist during their acquisition of a manufacturing plant in Ozzano Taro, Italy from Heinz.

An Italian wine producer

Sometimes our litigators’ biggest successes lie in avoiding litigation. At one stage, it seemed that there was no way for an Italian winemaker we represented to avoid a costly court battle after it terminated its longstanding US importer. However, through careful strategic decisions we were able to ease its transition from working with the US partner to its own recently formed affiliate without seeing the inside of a court room.

US micro-venture capital fund

We completed the formation and private offering of a US micro-venture capital fund focusing on the business-to-business digital marketplace and have advised on its investments in three portfolio companies: a platform providing athletes and parents with a suite of online tools to streamline the recruiting process; a platform providing restaurants with a trained food delivery staff and system as well as an app which communicates orders received by restaurants; and a platform that allows manufacturers and distributors in the IT sector to communicate with resellers of their products.

Real estate acquisition and leasing matters in the PRC

We acted for the largest hypermarket retailer in the United Kingdom in relation to its real estate acquisition and leasing matters in the PRC.

Acquisition of a wine estate and hotel facility in Tuscany

We assisted a group of foreign investors with acquiring the largest wine estate and hotel facility in Tuscany, which included corporate due diligence in several jurisdictions and the setting up of the right tax structure for an Italian Special Vehicle company. We continue to assist with further purchases of land for the expansion of the winery.

Represented investors investing in a high-end Italian food market chain

We represented investors investing in a high-end Italian food market chain comprised of restaurants and food stations in New York, Chicago and Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Joint venture for establishment of chain of wine bars in US, Europe, and Japan

We advised a leading Italian and international wine producer in a joint venture with a leading Italian food brand for the establishment of a chain of wine bars in the US, Europe, and Japan through a combination of owner-managed and franchise units.

International distribution arrangements

We provided comprehensive and strategic advice to various leading Italian and French wine producers in connection with entering into international distribution arrangements in the USA, Canada and Northern Europe.

Establishment of international operations for European winery

We provided guidance to a European winery at every step in the process of establishing its international operations.

Trade mark portfolio

We managed the trade mark portfolio of a leading Italian wine manufacturer.

Investment in Californian company

We represented an individual in their investment in a California limited liability company that is in the business of owning, developing and managing citrus groves in California.

Minority investment in US start-up companies

We advised a leading European venture capital fund on its minority investment in various US start-up food and beverage companies.

Structured investment in leading diet brand

We structured investment by a private equity fund into a leading diet brand and related asset reorganisation to monetise 70% of founder equity.

Employment matters for a high-end vintner

We handled employment matters for a high-end vintner, including the development of templates for employee offer letters and confidentiality restraints, and developing managed-risk employee terminations.

IP and US tax structuring

We advised a Middle Eastern specialty food start-up on IP and US tax structuring and distribution arrangements for their expansion into the US.

Disposition of majority stake of UK-based luxury group

We advised a UK-based luxury group of private hotels, restaurants, and private members' clubs in the disposition of a majority stake of the company to a US-based investment fund.

Venezuelan dairy investment

A family office, based in Florida, USA, carrying out an underlying investment in the Venezuelan dairy sector sought our advice on the deal.

International beer manufacturer

Advised an international beer manufacturer on trademark infringement in Singapore.

Italian wine manufacturer

Managed the trademark portfolio of a leading Italian wine manufacturer.

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