Apart from the announcement of holiday operator Thomson as the latest Nectar points-issuing partner, the UK's financial and trade press has again been buzzing about what could be the biggest development in the Nectar coalition loyalty programme's history: a move into other countries - perhaps even under different branding.
According to a report in Marketing Week, the programme's operator, Loyalty Management UK Ltd, is considering launching into other overseas markets.
The company apparently feels that the Nectar model could find good opportunities in other countries, even if the branding were to be changed to suit the market and partners in those regions.
And according to the UK's Financial Times newspaper, LMUK is also on the look-out for acquisitions following the Lehman Brothers "strategic review" which has apparently decided against the sale of Nectar (see 26 Oct. 2005). The paper reported LMUK's chairman, Sir Keith Mills, as describing the new approach as "a new strategy to grow the business organically and by acquisition".
However, Sir Keith declined to make any comment on whether or not LMUK was close to making any acquisitions, saying that the company was in continual international discussions with similar businesses, and that there were "half a dozen international opportunities out there". According to the Financial Times, Sir Keith believes that the next two to three years will see the business "fleshed out".
The company is reported to have made its first operating profit (of 25 million) in 2005, and is expecting to see double-digit profit growth going forward.
The Wise Marketer has tried (unsuccessfully as yet) to obtain direct comment from LMUK. We will keep trying, so watch this space...
New retail partner
At the same time, LMUK announced that the UK holiday operator, Thomson, has joined the Nectar loyalty programme as the latest points-issuing sponsor. Thomson raises the number of Nectar participating stores in the UK to over 7,000 and the number of participating sponsors to a total of 17.
Starting this month, Thomson is offering Nectar cardholders the chance to earn 2 Nectar points for every 1 spent on all Thomson holidays booked through the company's 750 stores throughout the UK. Commenting on Thomson's participation in Nectar, Brian Sinclair, managing director for LMUK, said: "Thomson has been a redemption partner since launch and has seen close-up how sponsors benefit from being a part of the Nectar programme."
LMUK was recently reorganised into divisions under a parent group (Loyalty Management Group, or LMG), including as the Nectar operator (Loyalty Management UK, or LMUK), a specialist data management services company (Loyalty Management Services, or LMS), and an international loyalty management services company (Loyalty Management International, or LMI).
For additional information:
· Visit LMUK at http://www.loyalty.co.uk
· Visit Marketing Week at http://www.marketingweek.co.uk
· Visit The Financial Times at http://www.financialtimes.com