Nectar owner Aimia takes stake in Spain's Travel Club

Nectar owner Aimia has expanded its presence in Europe by acquiring a 25% share of Spain's largest coalition loyalty scheme.

Aimia, which already operates coalition programmes in more than 20 countries around the world, has becomes a joint owner of Spain-based Travel Club alongside airline Iberia, fuel retailer Repsol and Spanish grocer Eroski.

Following the deal Aimia will be looking to use its learnings from operating Nectar in the UK, to develop and expand Travel Club across Spain. Travel Club currently has six million members, 30 business partners and it generated revenues of €40 million in 2013.

Under the new ownership structure, the aim is to grow Travel Club's member base, deliver more value to members and attract partners from new sectors across the finance, fashion, insurance and telecoms sectors.

Meanwhile, 19 million people have a Nectar membership in the UK, and Aimia also operates in the Italian customer loyalty market through its Nectar Italia programme.

Jan-Pieter Lips, regional president for the EMEA region at Aimia, said there is significant potential to introduce Travel Club to more households across Spain. 

"Consistent with our strategy in other markets, we'll be transporting the experience we have gained building Nectar into a major force in UK customer loyalty to help Travel Club's partners create deeper relationships with new and existing customers as Spain's economy continues to turn a corner." 

The Aimia investment coincides with the launch of Travel Club's new strategic business plan, which will involve introducing more ways for customers to earn points. It also comes at a time when the topic of loyalty in retail – and the use of loyalty programmes to collect potentially crucial customer insights – sits high on the business agenda.

Essential Retail recently hosted a roundtable on the subject of maintaining loyalty from the increasingly promiscuous shopper base, and the event involved a number of leading retail and hospitality businesses, including Nectar members Sainsbury's, eBay and Homebase.

The event highlighted how Sainsbury's, in particular, views the coalition as a key part of its overall strategy to engender customer loyalty.

Helen Hunter, director of customer data and relationships at the UK grocer, commented: "With loyalty schemes, generosity is judged in part not by how many points a customer has but what they buy with them, so having a variety of places to spend points can also enhance perceptions of scheme experience and value.

"If you think about it through a customer lens, having more places to collect and a richer redemption experience is a positive thing in a programme."