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Starting up a retail business: a guide to navigating the legal waters

By Sarah Naylor

Published In: Business Services

Starting a retail business can be an exciting journey filled with promise and potential. You have the idea, the vision and the know-how to get your business up and running. However, amidst the excitement, it's crucial not to overlook the legal aspects that can significantly impact the success of your venture.

Open for business sign

Consulting a commercial contracts solicitor is not just a precaution; it's a strategic move to safeguard your business interests. In this guide, we'll explore some of the key areas where legal advice is essential for opening a retail business.

Key considerations to make when you start a retail business

  1. Have you gone into business with a partner? If so, how will your individual interests be protected?
  2. Will your retail business operate from physical premises or be run online from home?
  3. If online, will you still need premises for office space or perhaps storage space?
  4. Will your retail business sell to other businesses, individual consumers, or both?
  5. Will you need to employ staff straight away?
  6. Will you need to forge relationships with third parties such as suppliers?

There are so many things to consider when setting up a new business venture, and for many things you’ll need to get legal input.

How to structure my new business?

Whether you set up your business as a limited company or perhaps as a partnership, if you’re going into business with another person, specific documentation is required. A solicitor can help draft a clear and comprehensive agreement such as a shareholder agreement or partnership agreement, which outlines each party’s rights, responsibilities, and ownership percentages. This document is crucial for managing expectations, resolving any disputes and protecting your interests as co-owners.

Lease for premises

  • Understanding lease terms: a solicitor can help decipher complex property lease agreements, ensuring you fully grasp your rights and obligations,
  • Negotiating terms: solicitors can assist in negotiating favourable lease terms, such as rent adjustments, lease duration, and break clauses,
  • Lease assignment or subletting: If you're taking over an existing lease or considering subletting part of your premises, solicitors can guide you through the legal process and ensure compliance with lease obligations,
  • Resolving disputes: In case of landlord disputes or issues regarding lease conditions, solicitors provide invaluable guidance and representation.

How do I set up a new website?

  • Website terms and conditions: solicitors help draft website terms and conditions that govern users' interactions with your online platform. These terms cover areas such as user rights and responsibilities, intellectual property rights, privacy policies, and data protection compliance
  • Privacy policies and terms of use: solicitors assist in drafting privacy policies and terms of use for your website, ensuring compliance with data protection regulations such as GDPR
  • Intellectual property protection: They help protect your brand by advising on trademark registration and ensuring your website content does not infringe on others' intellectual property rights
  • E-commerce regulations: solicitors guide you through e-commerce regulations, ensuring your website meets legal requirements for online transactions, refunds, and consumer rights

How do I write terms of business?

  • Drafting contracts: solicitors can draft comprehensive terms of business agreements tailored to your specific retail operations. Comprehensive terms of business are essential as clear and legally binding terms of business agreements that govern your interactions with customers, suppliers, and partners. These agreements cover essential aspects such as payment terms, delivery terms, warranties, and liabilities
  • Compliance with regulations: They ensure your terms of business comply with consumer protection laws, minimising legal risks and protecting your business from potential legal disputes and regulatory penalties
  • Dispute resolution: Should disagreements arise with customers or suppliers, solicitors help navigate resolution processes efficiently

 How to hire staff for a new business?

  •  Employment contracts: employment solicitors assist in drafting legally sound employment contracts that protect both your business and your employees.
  • Staff handbook: they can also help create a comprehensive staff handbook outlining your business's policies, procedures, and code of conduct. This promotes a positive work environment and reduces the risk of disputes or legal claims.
  • Navigating employment law:  an employment solicitor will keep you updated on relevant employment legislation, ensuring you’re compliant with regulations regarding wages, working hours, and employee rights.
  • Handling disputes: In the unfortunate event of employment disputes or grievances, solicitors offer expert guidance to resolve issues while minimising legal repercussions

Launching a successful retail business requires careful planning, and legal considerations are integral to this process. While it may seem daunting, partnering with a knowledgeable business solicitor early on can provide invaluable support, allowing you to focus on turning your retail vision into reality. Remember, investing in legal guidance today can save you from costly legal battles tomorrow.

 Working with a solicitor from day one of your businesses journey allows you to grow together. They understand your business model, goals and outlook and can support you as you develop. You get an extension of your business there to support all your legal needs when you need them.  

To discuss any aspect of setting up a new business contact Sarah Naylor at or call 01302 320621


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Sarah has over 18 years’ experience in the legal sector. She is a Director and Solicitor as well as the Head of our Commercial and Disputes team

Director and Solicitor

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